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Aprille Ericsson-Jackson

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering

April 1, 1963

She is the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She has worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as an aerospace engineer for over five years, and has taught at both Howard University and Bowie State University. In 1996 and 1997 she was named one of the top fifty minority women working in the Science and Engineering fields by the National Technical Association. She is currently the instrument manager for a proposed mission to bring dust from the Martian lower atmosphere back to Earth.

Aprille Ericsson-Jackson was born April 1, 1963, in New York, the oldest of four daughters. She was raised in Roosevelt projects on DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. She attended P.S. 199 elementary school in Brooklyn and Marine Park Junior High School. April was a member of the junior high school band, the science club, the honors club, and the girl’s basketball team.

She left New York and relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts when she was 15 years old to live with her grandparents to attend the Cambridge School of Weston. At the school she continued to earn high honors and played basketball and softball for both the Cambridge School of Weston teams and the citywide league. She sent in her application for UNITE a introduction to the Engineering, Entrepreneurship, and Science program that allows those who have the interest in these studies to be chosen for the six weed demanding program.( MITE -the program’s name indicates, engineering, science, and entrepreneurship).

In Aprille own words “she has always believed in a well-rounded life, partnering her career with an interest in sports. She has said that, had the WNBA existed when she was younger, she would have chosen to become a professional basketball player

After graduating from Cambridge School of Weston high school with all honors she was accepted to attend (MIT) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT she was involved in several prestigious and important research projects, such as at the Applied Psychics Laboratory, she assisted in developing a fiber optic laser Gyroscope, another project that she was involved with was at the Space Systems Laboratory She was involved in creating a database for EVA neutral Buoyancy data that was calculated at the NASA Johnson Space Center. She produced her papers for her Senior Project the research on the Manned Mars Mission crew systems for interplanetary vehicles. Dr. Ericckson graduated MITand received her Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering. She continue her education after MIT and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. while at Howard University she help to develop practical design procedures for future orbiting space structures, such as the Space Station, that could be used along with optimal digital controllers which she received the funds from several fellowships and grants from many prestigious sponsors.

She completed her academic studies and was awarded a Master of Engineering degree and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace option. The first ever for a woman and African American Woman.



Dr. Ericsson was hired at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Guidance, Navigation, and Control department by working as an aerospace engineer this position generated her many opportunities to fulfill her dream of forwarding space flight. Some of the satellite projects she has worked on include the X-Ray Timing Explorer (XTE), the Tropical Rain Forest Measurement Mission (TRMM), and the MIDEX project called MAP, or Microwave Anisotropy Probe. She developed and used programs for dynamic modeling simulation. “The programs,” she explained to the Graduating Engineer website, “are invaluable in predetermining the dynamics and structural reactions of the spacecraft.”

Dr. Ericsson has received several awards, including the Women in Science and Engineering Award for being the best female engineer in the federal government in 1998, a special Recognition Award at the Black Engineers Award Conference, and a NASA Goddard Honor Award for Excellence in Outreach. Ericsson-Jackson has also been named one of the Top 18 Women Who Will Change the World by the Women’s Network.

Dr. Ericsson has been a professor and helped develop engineering curriculums for several schools and universities, including Howard University, Bowie State University, and the HU Public Charter Middle School of Math & Science.

She is currently holds the deputy manager for the ICES at Atlas instrument.  She manages a satellite that uses laser technology to calculate how the polar ice cap surface is changing (global climate change).  She works with engineers to develop hardware, while managing the financial and time budget for all the projects she has developed.
In the last 20 years considering the United States space endeavor missions conducted through NASA, you need not look or research any further when your thoughts go into motion one name pops to the source Dr. Aprille Ericsson. She has played an important role in the success of NASA. She holds a PHD in aerospace engineering and she is the instrument manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Located a few miles out of the DC area. Her pioneering of skills to conduct simulations on spacecraft designs in order to understand how crafts perform during flight and how the propulsion systems will function. Not so bad for a little girl from the projects who never gave up on her passion and vision. She was destined to lead and to establish. Dr. Ericsson is a true role model for all to take notice of no matter what your environment is never ever give up on your dream and to indulge yourself in what your true gifts are in life. She has opened the door for the generation to come.



Massachusetts Institute of Technology, B.S. in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering

Howard University, Master of Engineering, Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace option.

Profession Position:

Goddard Space Flight Center, engineer

Howard University, instructor

Bowie State University, instructor



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