February 12, 2019
The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson. Dr. Ericsson-Jackson 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 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).
Aprille Ericsson-Jackson (born April 1, 1963) is an American aerospace engineer. Aprille Ericsson 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 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Perhaps one of the most famous women working for NASA today, Ericsson is the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the HBCU.
A great deal of Ericsson's engineering career at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) was spent helping NASA evolve and fine-tune a global understanding of the sun-earth connection, earth, and space science. Her NASA career started as an aerospace engineer in the Robotics group, but soon after, she transferred into the Guidance Navigation & Control discipline.
Ericsson's expertise was used to manage the spacecraft's orientation and position during most phases of a mission. Using computers, she calculated and simulated structural vibrations, thrusting scenarios and environmental disturbances. In 2006, she collaborated on the "Mars Scout" proposal called "SCIM," a proposed sample and return mission to Mars, serving as a manager for the Dust collector Experiment (DuCE) which proposed sterilization and stowage of trapped dust particles from the Martian lower atmosphere for delivery to Earth. From 2007 to 2008, she served as an Instrument Engineer, supporting the development of two flight instruments (ST8 Miniature Thermal Loop Heat Pipe, a technology development and, Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), an instrument on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter during their integration and testing periods. The LOLA instrument was successfully launched on June 18, 2009. Ericsson was responsible for a $30 million budget that would deliver a three-telescope instrument consisting of a coilable boom and three detectors that measure the polarization of X-ray beams.
Her current responsibilities include serving as the Acting IM for the ICESat-2/ATLAS (Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite), a $240 million instrument that will provide measurements to quantify changes in ice-sheet mass and its drivers, and the impact of these changes on future global sea level; monitor atmospheric exchanges of energy, mass, and moisture; and measure vegetation canopy height.
Ericsson also has served as an adjunct professor at Howard University and Bowie State University where she teaches courses in mechanical engineering and mathematics. She also teaches Aerospace theory to students at HU Public Charter Middle School of Math & Science (MS)2.
Aprille Ericsson has been acknowledged by the National Technical Association, for being amongst the Top 50 minority women in Science and Engineering. She received the NASA Goddard Honor Award for Excellence in Outreach (individual) and Center of Excellence Award for the TRMM Project (Group). Dr. Aprille Ericsson was elected to the Howard University Board of Trustees in September 2004. In February 2010, she received a Science Trailblazers award from the Black Engineers of the Year Award Conference. And in May 2011, she was awarded the Presidents Medal from York College. Also, she is a member of the NASA GSFC Speakers Bureau and the Women of NASA Group.