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Miss Stephanie

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posted on Jul, 2 2018 @ 07:00 PM
Stephanie was born in the 1920s, in a dirty and overcrowded suburb of Pittsburgh. In those days, the area now known as The Point/Point State Park was mostly industrial, and the miasma of smoke and other toxic fumes darkened the air such that lamps were occasionally lit during the day. The junction of the three rivers there roiled with human effluvia and other industrial contamination and was not only undrinkable, but toxic to the skin.

Stephanie’s mother Nellie, instilled in her an interest in sewing, stitching, fashion and fabrics, and from her father, John, she grew to love the natural sciences. This was toward the beginning of the Depression, and Nellie was fortunate to have a job with an aluminium company. She wanted desperately for her daughter to have a formal education, and worked late and long hours to provide for her daughter, having never had the time nor opportunity to properly grieve for her lost husband.

Stephanie though she wanted to go into medicine, perhaps be a nurse or even a physician. These were very difficult times and the living conditions were crowded, dirty and hectic.

Stephanie graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1946 with a BS in Chemistry, and though her aspirations were still toward a career in medicine, she took a position with DuPont. Her research stimulated her, and she grew to be fascinated with polymer studies and fabrics. One of the first polymers of the time was nylon, and she conducted experiments with weaving it, and cross-polymerization.

Kwolek specialized in developing low-temperature processes for finding petroleum-based synthetic fibers of incredible strength and rigidity. Assigned to finding the next generation of fibers that could withstand extreme conditions, Kwolek’s work involved preparing intermediates, synthesizing aromatic polyamides of high molecular weight, dissolving the polyamides in solvents, and spinning these solutions into fibers.

In 1970, Stephanie Kwolek’s research resulted in the discovery of a liquid crystal polymer solution that culminated in the fabric we know today as Kevlar, a completely synthetic material several times stronger – and more impervious – than steel.

Kevlar, best known for bulletproof vests, is also used in spacecraft, safety helmets, and fiberoptic cables, just to name a few of its uses.

Stephanie Kwolek spearheaded polymer research at DuPont's Pioneering Lab until her retirement, as Research Associate, in 1986. She is recipient or co-recipient of 17 US patents, including one for the spinning method that made commercial aramid fibers feasible, and 5 for the prototype from which Kevlar® was created. Kwolek continues to consult part-time for DuPont, where she is also known and respected as a mentor to young scientists---especially women.



....... and a special nod of the head in remembrance to historian Paul Harvey. Miss you.

posted on Jul, 2 2018 @ 07:09 PM
Lots of kick ass female intellects out there.
Pretty damn important discoveries by Ms Kwolek.
Thanks for bringing her story to light.

posted on Jul, 2 2018 @ 07:34 PM
a reply to: Asktheanimals

You're welcome and thanks for the nod, ATA. I'm really fond of the little, unsung heroes of human history.

posted on Jul, 3 2018 @ 03:41 PM
If your banking system is working then thank Grace Hooper who was and looking at her photo a woman that you would not argue with.
edit on 3-7-2018 by Maxatoria because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 6 2018 @ 05:03 AM
a reply to: argentus

Thanks for the interesting article. An amazing woman.

posted on Jul, 11 2018 @ 04:51 PM
a reply to: Maxatoria

Thank you! Much appreciate your lauding other heroes.

posted on Jul, 11 2018 @ 04:53 PM
a reply to: Judy21

No, thank YOU for stopping by this mostly dusty thread. I enjoy finding somewhat obscure but noteworthy souls and writing about them.

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