Real-life Rosie the Riveter inspires students to reach ‘to the moon and the stars’

February 23, 2021 in Community

More than 700 students from Pennsburry School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, gathered recently to hear from an iconic member of the Boeing family, Mae Krier — a retired Boeing employee and original WWII-era Rosie the Riveter. During the virtual fireside chat, Krier discussed her incredible career, her recent advocacy work on behalf of other Rosies across the country, and the importance of pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education — especially for young women and girls.

“It was my privilege to speak with and hear from the students from the Pennsburry School District. Their enthusiasm for STEM education is exactly what this country needs, said Mae Krier, retired Boeing employee, and WWII-era Rosie the Riveter. “These young students embody the “We Can Do It” spirit that the Rosie the Riveter movement stands for. I want each one of them to remember the importance of the word perseverance.”

Krier, a self-described STEM pioneer, credits her passion for the subject to her time spent working at Boeing on the B-17 and B-29 lines in Seattle from 1943-1945. Through her recent advocacy work with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, she helped drive the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act through Congress.

“When I started the important work of getting our Rosies recognized thirty years ago, I never gave up,” Krier said. “If these young students think something is important, I tell them, ‘Go after it. Follow your dream.’”

The bill, which passed both chambers and was signed into law last December, collectively awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the millions of women who helped build aircraft, motor vehicles, weapons and ammunition during WWII.

“Mae Krier continues to inspire Pennsylvania and the world,” said event co-host and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “I was honored to work alongside her to pass the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act into law last year. Mae and her fellow ‘Rosie the Riveters’ played an invaluable role in our Nation’s efforts during World War II. They rose to the challenge and set a powerful example – not only for working women, but for all Americans. Today, all these years later, she inspired the students of Pennsbury School District. We truly enjoyed partnering with Boeing to bring these future engineers together with Mae to share stories from her riveting life and discuss the importance of STEM-related career paths.”

Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun joined the event and thanked Krier for her contributions to multiple war efforts — World War II and the war against COVID-19.

“My father jumped out of one of your airplanes at Normandy and ultimately survived it, and if he knew now that I was talking to you, he’d be just about the most excited person in the world, and he would want me to pass on his thanks for all the work that you did,” Calhoun said. “Today’s war, if you will, is with a virus, COVID. All of us at Boeing are proud of the work we do in this war as well… And Mae’s masks, I mean, they speak for themselves. It just sort of weaves history right into the current moment, and I don’t think any of us could be more proud about that.”

The virtual event, hosted by Sen. Casey and Boeing, provided the students an opportunity to hear from Krier and share their Engineers Week (E-Week) experiences and learnings. Boeing engineers Christina Bowen and Hana McKee were on hand the previous week to lead the students through a hands-on STEM learning activity as part of the E-Week program in the Philadelphia region.

This was Boeing’s second engagement with Krier in recent months. Last December, 20 Boeing employees from the Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, site helped pack over 1,800 envelopes with Rosie the Riveter COVID-19 face masks that were designed and hand-sewn by Krier. Boeing sent the masks to communities in need, free of charge.

During his remarks, Calhoun also made a surprise announcement, an excerpt of which you can watch here (For optimized video experience, please use Firefox or Chrome web browser.).

A full archived recording of the virtual event can be found here (For optimized video experience, please use Firefox or Chrome web browser.). A captioned version is forthcoming.