The Newberry Seminar on Technology, Politics, and Culture
Co-Sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Roosevelt University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University's School of Communications
Friday, September 23, 2005, 3:30-5:00pm
The Newberry Library
Urgency, Uncertainty, and Innovation: Building Jet Engines in Postwar America
Philip Scranton, Rutgers University and the Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society at the Hagley Museum & Library
During the Second World War, the U.S. military experimented with a landmark British invention: the jet aircraft engine. Jet propulsion came too late to shape the outcome of the war. Not until after 1945 would military-funded research and development transform this invention into a viable innovation. This project would preoccupy several major American corporations - including General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, Westinghouse, GM-Allison, and Curtiss-Wright. This paper tells the largely unknown story of how military planners and corporate leaders defined and managed this urgent Cold War challenge, and explains why it was so frustratingly difficult to build a jet engine that worked.
All papers are pre-circulated. For a copy of the paper, e-mail Ginger Shulick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 312.255.3524.
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