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Dr. Aprille  Ericsson

Dr. Aprille Ericsson

Rocket Scientist, Technologist & STEM Educator


Aerospace engineer Aprille Joy Ericsson’s career is distinguished by “firsts,”, she considers her most prestigious the honor of being the first person of color to receive The Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers. Raised in the projects of Bedford-Stuyvesant, 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 25+ year tenure with NASA, Dr. Ericsson has worked as Aerospace Engineer, Technologist, Project and Program Manager and Executive. She has taught at both Howard University, University of Maryland, and Bowie State University. Dr. Ericsson 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. Read More >

As an attitude control systems specialist, her satellite missions have included projects X-Ray Timing Explorer, Tropical Rain Forest Measurement Mission, and the Wilkerson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. For these projects, Ericsson developed and used programs for dynamic modeling simulation, which are invaluable in predetermining the dynamics and structural reactions of spacecraft. Following those assignments, Dr. Ericsson was detailed to NASA HQs as a Program Executive for Earth Science, and a Business Executive for Space Science. She returned to GSFC for a long tenure as an Instrument Project Manager, where she led spaceflight instrument teams and proposal developments for instruments ranging from $15M to $500M. More she served as the Capture Manager for a proposed $250M Astrophysics mid-sized Class Explorer, called STAR-X. Prior to that proposal development, Dr. Ericsson served as the GSFC Program Manager for SBIR/STTR. Formerly, she served as the Deputy to the Chief Technologist for the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate.

Ericsson’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. 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. “I feel obligated to spur the interest of youth particularly minorities and females in STEM,” she says. “Without diversity in these fields, the United States will not remain technically competitive.” Dr. Ericsson has served as former Board member, some worth noting are: HU Trustee; International Black Aerospace Council; HU Middle School of Mathematics and Science Chair. Currently, she is a Board member of: MIT’s Industry Advisory Council for Minority Education; the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Board of Higher Education and Workforce; Advisory Council of Organization Black Aerospace Professionals; and Chair of the Advisory Council of HU Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Dr. Ericsson has always pursued ambitious undertakings and has never shied away from aiming high. She lives by these words of Norman Vincent Peale: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Read Less ^

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