Martin Skinner was born and raised in Michigan, just outside of Detroit. He was trained in Chemical Engineering at Michigan State University before joining the army. During WWII, Skinner worked in the Beta 3 Building in the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Skinner worked as a troubleshooter for the Calutrons in the Beta 3 Building. After the war and getting married, Skinner returned to Oak Ridge to continue working on a project researching the stable separation of isotopes.