Women on Top

Starting out with just a game-changing idea, a bulletproof business plan, or an electrifying design, these women are reinventing their industries and demolishing boys' clubs from the ranks of the military to Silicon Valley. They're all under 40, but those aren't stars in their eyes: They're planning a revolution.

By Sophie Moura

October 20, 2011 9:00 AM
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Peter Hapak
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Top Green Engineer

Angela Harris, 30, research engineer, Ford

Résumé: People associate "green" with electric vehicles, but car materials can be green, too. A chemical engineer who started at Ford as a high school intern, Harris pioneered the creation of the "EnviroSeat," with soy-foam cushions. Four years later, Ford has sold more than 3 million cars with the cushions, and Harris' work is a bright spot in the beleaguered auto industry.

Background Check: "In 1998, I interned in Ford's plastics research group. Then I went to the University of Michigan, where I became very environmentally conscious, but I still wanted to go back to Ford! My senior year, I got an offer as a research engineer there. Now my group creates sustainable materials."

Big Break: "I had the idea for the EnviroSeat, using the biomaterials we'd been working on — corn, soy, and sugarcane — before Ford's Tech Fair. It got a huge response, but the highlight was presenting it at Ford's annual dealer meeting in 2008. I talked to 1,400 dealers. They loved it!"

Flower Power: "I'm testing Russian dandelions, which produce latex, as a sustainable rubber source for car parts."

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