Skip to main content

Kevlar

WHEN STEPHANIE LOUISE KWOLEK RECEIVEPortrait of Stephanie KwolekD HER B.S., WITH a major in chemistry, from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1946, she didn’t have enough money to pursue her dream of going on to medical school. So she accepted a research job with DuPont, hoping to eventually get a medical degree.

Just after World War II ended, Stephanie Louise Kwolek tucked her new chemistry degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology under her arm and—because she couldn’t afford medical school—took a research job at DuPont’s textile fibers department in Buffalo. Although she faced many challenges as one of the few women in chemical research, she liked the work so much that she soon dropped her plans to become a doctor. Two decades later she would invent Kevlar, one of the world’s most versatile materials, and along with it a new branch of polymer chemistry.

Subscribe to Kevlar

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support this 70-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate

Stay informed - subscribe to our newsletter.
The subscriber's email address.