Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Mieography

Stephanie Louise Kwolek was born in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in July of 1923. Her father, unfortunately, passed away when she was ten. From him, though, she got a keen interest in science, and wanted to become an MD when she grew up. Before he died, he would take her exploring in the woods near their home, looking for bugs, birds and flowers. She would bring "specimens" back to their home, identifying them and putting them into scrap books.

She did pursue this, graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Chemistry. She needed money, however, to continue on to medical school, so she hoped to get a temporary job in a chemistry related field to do so.
World War II had just ended when she needed to do this, and there were not enough educated men to take some of these jobs. She ended up working at DuPont, in Buffalo, NY. She quickly found a lot of interest in her "temporary" job, and decided to stay, not pursuing her medical dream. She eventually transferred to the DuPont facility in Wilmington, Delaware.
While working for DuPont, she invented Kevlar. She and her group were actually looking for a new, light weight, but strong fiber to use for tires. Instead, they ended up with the fiber that would become Kevlar. It lead to a new field of chemistry, as well, "Polymer Chemistry". Modern Kevlar was introduced in 1971.
She retired in 1986, however, she still consults for DuPont. She also serves on the National Research Council, and the National Academy of Sciences. During her 40 year career, she filed up to 28 patients. She was the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventor's Hall of Fame. She also lectures, periodically about her life, and invention. She tells students "Every person has value, no matter what you do. This is what you have to remember".


sybil law said...

"Every person has value, no matter what you do. This is what you have to remember".
Damned true, that statement.