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Aprille Ericsson        

Rocket Scientist; Technologist & STEM Educator

Aerospace engineer Aprille Ericsson-Jackson’s career is distinguished by “firsts." Ericsson-Jackson considers her most prestigious the honor of being the first person of color to receive The Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers. She is the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University (HU) and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), where she currently serves as New Business lead for the Instrument Systems and Technology Division.

During her quarter-century-long tenure with NASA, Ericsson-Jackson has worked as an Aerospace Engineer, Technologist, Project and Program Manager and Executive. She has taught at several universities, including Howard University, University of Maryland, and Bowie State University. Ericsson-Jackson has been named one of the top 50 minority women working in science and engineering fields by the National Technical Association and she was ranked 8 of 20 on the 2016 list of the Most Powerful Women Engineers by Business Insider.

Raised in the projects of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ericsson-Jackson began her education being bussed to an elementary school in Brooklyn. In her last year of junior high school, she won second place in the science fair. At age 15, she decided to move to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she lived with her grandparents and attended the Cambridge School of Weston on scholarship.

After graduating high school, she attended MIT, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering. During her time there, she was involved in several aerospace research projects and lead the research for Manned Mars Mission crew systems for interplanetary vehicles for her senior project.

She earned her masters and doctoral degree at Howard University, where her research focused on developing practical design procedures for future orbiting space structures, like the Space Station.

Ericsson-Jackson’s work as an aerospace engineer has presented many opportunities to fulfill her dream of advancing space flight. Additionally, she has traveled extensively throughout the world, presenting papers on her research in the US, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, England, South Africa, and Mexico. She has also been a Guest Researcher at Radcliffe Institute/Harvard University and she has acquired a Leadership & Management Certificate from John Hopkins University.

She speaks to young people across the country -- especially minorities and women -- to encourage them to follow in her footsteps. She mentors student every year and 20 years ago she created an email pipeline for groups underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. This pipeline distributes opportunities for employment, grants, internships, and fellowships.

Ericsson-Jackson’s many honors and awards include an Honorary Doctor of Science from Medgar Evers College, The Tau Beta Pi Alumni of Distinction, The Washington Award, The Women’s Network “Top 18 Women Who Will Change the World," National Technical Association’s “Top 50 Minority Women in Science and Engineering,” the Women in Science and Engineering Award for Engineering Achievement, the Black Engineers Award Conference Special Recognition Award, and several NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Honor Awards, which include an Excellence in Outreach and Technical awards for several Space mission projects.

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