#WomenInSTEMWednesday: Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek

Courtesy: DuPont

Kevlar has not only saved lives for our first responders and military personnel, it is also used in many everyday things. We can thank today’s#WomenInSTEM, American chemist Stephanie Kwolek for this.

Kwolek grew up in Pennsylvania, the child of Polish immigrants. She developed a love of fabrics from her mother while also having an interest in chemistry and medicine. Once she graduated from college with a degree in Chemistry, she applied for a job with DuPont to save money for medical school.

While working at DuPont, she enjoyed her work so much that she dropped plans for medical school and devoted her life to chemistry. Kwolek was given the task to develop the next group of fibers that could stand up to crazy conditions. While working on this, one of her tests/creations didn’t turn out like she expected. Many scientists would have marked that test as a failure, but Kwolek wanted to know more. She continued studying the test and found that with a few changed, the fibers were much stronger than ever before. Enter the creation of Kevlar.

Stephanie Kwolek didn’t let a little mishap stop her. She studied it more and ended up developing a fiber that is used in everything from bullet-proof vests to tennis racquets and tires. Kwolek continued to work with DuPont until her retirement in the 1980s. She’s in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is the recipient or co-recipient of 17 patents. GO STEPHANIE KWOLEK!#WomenInSTEMWednesday

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