Robert Carter

Class of 1942
Major/Minor: Physics

In 1943, as World War II escalated, Bob Carter ’42 was recruited to the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico to work on The Manhattan Project, the international effort to build the first atomic explosive. “In large part,” he says, “Washington College determined my future with the project. As the College’s only physics major, I was asked to be a lab assistant for Dr. Coop, responsible for setting up lab experiments for other science majors.” Today, the 90-year-old nuclear physicist still has his hand in the field as he sits on a professional committee for the American Nuclear Society, reviewing rights and standards in the nuclear industry.

Bob is the correspondent for the Class of 1942.

I lived in Berlin, MD, from early teen years. Graduated from Washington College with a major in physics in 1942, a few months after the US had entered WW 2. I joined a program at Purdue U. in June, teaching U.S. sailors electricity concepts and practical wiring, and as a grad student in physics.

Within a couple of months I also joined a classified (secret) nuclear physics project using a cyclotron (a nuclear physics research machine). In fall of 1943 I was invited to join the nuclear physics research and development (atomic bomb) program at Los Alamos, NM.
Did additional grad work in physics and math at U. Illinois, married, fathered first baby 1946-48, and returned to Los Alamos until 1963,also acquiring 8 more children.
Moved to Maryland  to do different type of nuclear research and development, and added two more children. Retired in 2000, and wife died that same year.

Now I continue work on special technical committee, using the Internet. Still travel a few times a year, camp, kayak (or canoe) on several day trips with some sons and grandson. Try to stay well and active. WC class agent, rep, correspondent since about 1990.



Campus Involvement

The father of 11, Bob gives back to WC because he wants today’s students to have the same opportunities he had. He recalls a time in his undergraduate career when he owed almost $100 on his bill and would not be allowed to take his finals until the bill was paid. “I told Mr. Johns, the comptroller, that I didn’t have the money and neither did my father. Mr. Johns pulled out his checkbook and paid the bill. In return he asked me to return to Chestertown for two weeks in the summer and take his son and a friend of his camping. It doesn’t get more personal than that.”