December 19, 2014

Our story starts with a girl named Stephanie, who spent hours sketching outfits for her dolls.
As she grew up, however, Stephanie’s interest shifted from fashion to medicine. But when she graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1946, she found herself unable to afford the tuition for medical school.

To raise money, Stephanie started working at DuPont – which had spent years churning out materials like nylon, Teflon and plastics for America's war effort.
The position was only supposed to be temporary, but working in DuPont’s textile lab proved to be a natural fit for Stephanie – who ultimately decided to forgo medical school.
Stephanie had several successes at DuPont, but it was in 1964 that she had her biggest breakthrough. In the process of developing a new material for tires, she stumbled onto a milky liquid.
She believed the liquid could be made into a fiber, and she was right. The fiber proved to be stronger than cotton, stronger than nylon, stronger than steel.

Stephanie Kwolek passed away this year, at age 90, but Kevlar – the material she created – lives on not only as the go-to material for bulletproof vests, but also in everything from sports equipment to firefighters' clothes to airplanes.

Stephanie Kwolek, history, Sci and Tech

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