Saturday, February 7, 2009

Engineering Plan

I was having a discussion with a correspondent about how to organize a Polywell Fusion engineering program. I though I had discussed that here but it turns out that I made my remarks at NASA Spaceflight. So I would like to revise and extend those remarks.

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Since I'm thinking along Manhattan Project lines I think we need a name for our little venture. I propose the "Rock River Engineering District". I don't know, it just came to me. So how should the Rock River Engineering District be organized?

We start with a project management (PM) team with representatives from each of the labs and the main functional groups. Project management is above all responsible for results. Budgets and schedules too. The job of PM is to make sure all the horses are pulling in the same direction.

Now what about project teams? Start with a power reactor group. A thermal group. An electrical group (power and control). A test reactor group. And a support group consisting of mathematicians, metallurgists, electronic design, etc. and administrative support - purchasing, contracts, etc.

The reactor group alone is going to have to have subgroups: electron guns, fuel injection, vacuum group, magnetics group, collection grid group, plasma physics. Possibly others - all working with the thermal group. Plus you want to have some mathematicians on staff for helping the engineers with the hard stuff. Reduce the engineering to algebra/trig or computer programs with graphical and table outputs.

Then you have to have some one who can ride heard on this collection of prima donnas. If they aren't prima donnas I don't want them on the program. Think Manhattan Project. Or Rickover re: nuke subs. We want very smart experienced people with an excess of confidence. With a pessimist riding herd.

I think it took the Naval reactor group from 1948 to 1953 to get delivery of the sub reactor prototype. With 6 years prior experience in low power and low power density reactors.

3 comments:

Dewald said...

You would need a very good systems engineering team to integrate the lot and ride herd!
Dewald

99% said...

Sounds like you've been reading "Stages to Saturn" or something...

M. Simon said...

You would need a very good systems engineering team to integrate the lot and ride herd!

So true.

Sounds like you've been reading "Stages to Saturn" or something...

No. I've just been thinking about something I did all my life. Design projects and then get the job done.