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Stephanie Louise Kwolek’s research with high performance chemical compounds for the DuPont Company led to the development of a synthetic material called Kevlar which is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar, patented by Kwolek in 1966, does not rust nor corrode and is extremely lightweight. Many police officers owe their lives to Stephanie Kwolek, for Kevlar is the material used in bullet proof vests. Other applications of the compound include underwater cables, brake linings, space vehicles, boats, parachutes, skis, and building materials.

Kwolek was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania in 1923. Upon graduating in 1946 from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University) with a bachelor’s degree, Kwolek went to work as a chemist at the DuPont Company. She would ultimately obtain 28 patents during her 40-year tenure as a research scientist. In 1995, Kwolek was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.