Stephanie Kwolek
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Stephanie Kwolek Family, Timeline, Chemists - π’π­πžπ©π‘πšπ§π’πž 𝐊𝐰𝐨π₯𝐞𝐀 Biography
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Carnegie Mellon UniversityCarnegie Mellon College of EngineeringMargaret Morrison Carnegie College
Carnegie Mellon University
Kevlar
New Kensington
Female
Leo
New Kensington
90
Wilmington
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Who is Stephanie Kwolek?

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Stephanie Louise Kwolek was an American chemist whose research work led to the development of the synthetic fiber, Kevlar, a material of exceptional strength best known for its use in bulletproof vests. The material she created after years of tireless work in the laboratories is far stronger and lighter than steel, and has been used in car tires, boots for firefighters, cut-resistant gloves, fiber-optic cables, fire-resistant mattresses, and armored limousines. Regarded a true pioneer for women in science, she became the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995. The daughter of a naturalist, she developed an early interest in science due to the influence of her father. Even though her father died when she was young, her love for science remained strong and she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University. She then found a job with DuPont's New York facility and worked there for over 40 years over the course of which she made numerous contributions to research in polymer chemistry. During her career with the company, she invented Kevlar when her team was searching for a lightweight yet strong fiber to be used in tires. Her discovery proved very valuable for the company and generated several billion dollars of revenue for DuPont though she personally did not get any direct financial benefits.

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Stephanie Kwolek Childhood & Early Life

Stephanie Kwolek was born on July 31, 1923, in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, United States, to Polish immigrant parents. Her father, John Kwolek, was a naturalist by avocation who took his daughter on numerous trips exploring the natural world. Her mother Nellie was a fashion-conscious woman.

Her father died when she was just 10 years old. But the love for science she inherited from him would remain with her for life.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University in 1946. Her initial plan was to become a doctor. She hoped to find a chemistry-related job and earn enough money to attend medical school.

Stephanie Kwolek Career

Shortly after her graduation, Hale Charch offered her a position at DuPont's Buffalo, New York, facility. In the 1940s, a huge number of men were overseas because of the World War II and employers were more open towards recruiting women.

Stephanie Kwolek began her career at DuPont in 1946. Initially she planned on working there only temporarily as she had plans to attend medical school. But with time she found the job very interesting and ditched her plans of becoming a doctor, choosing to continue with her current career path.

In the 1960s, Kwolek was made part of a team at DuPont’s research laboratory in Wilmington that was trying to develop a lightweight yet strong fiber to be used in tires. This work involved manipulating strings of carbon-based molecules to produce larger molecules known as polymers, and she was specifically working with poly-p-phenylene terephthalate and polybenzamide.

She was struggling with the polymers she was working with and was not able to find the results she was expecting. Conventional polymer solutions are usually clear or translucent but the one she created looked like a dispersion. However, further tests on the solution produced amazing results. The fibers spun from these polymers displayed unusual stiffness.

The fibers were tested in 1965 and were found to be five times as strong as steel of equal weight and resistant to fire. Her supervisor at DuPont recognized the commercial potential of the newly developed fiber and it was introduced in the market as Kevlar in early 1970s. Kwolek, however, was not very involved in developing practical applications of Kevlar.

She spent her entire career with DuPont and retired as a research associate in 1986. During her later years she served on both the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences.

Stephanie Kwolek Major Work

Stephanie Louise Kwolek is best known for her work which led to the development of Kevlar, a para-aramid synthetic fiber, a highly versatile material that is used in more than 200 applications. The material which is even stronger than steel is used for the manufacture of bullet-proof vests, car tires, fire fighter boots, hockey sticks, bicycle tires and racing sails.

Stephanie Kwolek Awards & Achievements

Kwolek received the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists in 1980. The same year, she also received an Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society.

She became the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995.

In 1995, she was awarded the DuPont company’s Lavoisier Medal for outstanding technical achievement as a "Persistent experimentalist and role model whose discovery of liquid crystalline polyamides led to Kevlar aramid fibers."

In 2003, she was added to the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Stephanie Kwolek Personal Life & Legacy

Stephanie Kwolek never married, she dedicated her entire life to her profession.

She lived a long and fruitful life and died on June 18, 2014, at the age of 90.

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Stephanie Kwolek awards

  • Other

    • 1996 - National Medal of Technology and Innovation
    • 1997 - Perkin Medal
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Stephanie Kwolek biography timelines

  • Stephanie Kwolek was born on July 31, 1923, in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, United States, to Polish immigrant parents. Her father, John Kwolek, was a naturalist by avocation who took his daughter on numerous trips exploring the natural world. Her mother Nellie was a fashion-conscious woman.
    31st Jul 1923
  • She earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University in 1946. Her initial plan was to become a doctor. She hoped to find a chemistry-related job and earn enough money to attend medical school.
    1946
  • Stephanie Kwolek began her career at DuPont in 1946. Initially she planned on working there only temporarily as she had plans to attend medical school. But with time she found the job very interesting and ditched her plans of becoming a doctor, choosing to continue with her current career path.
    1946
  • The fibers were tested in 1965 and were found to be five times as strong as steel of equal weight and resistant to fire. Her supervisor at DuPont recognized the commercial potential of the newly developed fiber and it was introduced in the market as Kevlar in early 1970s. Kwolek, however, was not very involved in developing practical applications of Kevlar.
    1965
  • Kwolek received the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists in 1980. The same year, she also received an Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society.
    1980
  • She spent her entire career with DuPont and retired as a research associate in 1986. During her later years she served on both the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences.
    1986
  • She became the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995.
    1995
  • In 1995, she was awarded the DuPont company’s Lavoisier Medal for outstanding technical achievement as a "Persistent experimentalist and role model whose discovery of liquid crystalline polyamides led to Kevlar aramid fibers."
    1995
  • In 2003, she was added to the National Women's Hall of Fame.
    2003
  • She lived a long and fruitful life and died on June 18, 2014, at the age of 90.
    18th Jun 2014
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Frequently asked questions about Stephanie Kwolek

  • What is Stephanie Kwolek birthday?

    Stephanie Kwolek was born at July 31, 1923

  • Where is Stephanie Kwolek's birth place?

    Stephanie Kwolek was born in New Kensington

  • What is Stephanie Kwolek nationalities?

    Stephanie Kwolek's nationalities is American

  • What was Stephanie Kwolek universities?

    Stephanie Kwolek studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering, Margaret Morrison Carnegie College university

  • What was Stephanie Kwolek notable alumnis?

    Stephanie Kwolek's notable alumnis is Carnegie Mellon University

  • What is Stephanie Kwolek's inventions/discoveries?

    Kevlar was invented (or discovered) by Stephanie Kwolek

  • What is Stephanie Kwolek's sun sign?

    Stephanie Kwolek is Leo

  • When was Stephanie Kwolek died?

    Stephanie Kwolek was died at June 18, 2014

  • Where was Stephanie Kwolek died?

    Stephanie Kwolek was died in Wilmington

  • Which age was Stephanie Kwolek died?

    Stephanie Kwolek was died at age 90