Aprille J. Ericsson-Jackson (born April 1, 1963) is an American aerospace engineer. Ericsson-Jackson is the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University and the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).
Aprille Ericsson-Jackson spent her childhood in Brooklyn, New York City, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Later, she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has said that her interest in aeronautics manifested at an early age; she recalled watching the Apollo missions when she was in the first grade. In the summer of 1980, she attended MITES, a science outreach program for minority students at MIT. She earned her Bachelor's of Science in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering at MIT in 1986. She was then awarded a master's degree in engineering from Howard University in 1992, followed by a doctorate in mechanical engineering, the first African-American woman to do so.
Career and Teaching
Soon after graduating from Howard University, Ericsson-Jackson accepted an Aerospace Engineer position at the NASA Goddard Flight Center in Maryland. Projects to which she has contributed include satellites that monitor the Earth; one such project, the Tropical Rain Measuring Mission, provides data on the atmospheric phenomena El Niño and La Niña and their effects on crop productivity.
Ericsson-Jackson has worked in various groups within NASA, including the Robotics group and the Guidance Navigation & Control Discipline. Her work in the latter helps spacecraft stabilize and manage their orientation and position during missions. She has also worked on missions that send spacecraft to other bodies within the solar system; she supported development on instrumentation for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was launched in 2009.
In addition to her roles as an engineer, Ericsson-Jackson has taught at Howard University and Bowie State University, leading courses in mathematics and mechanical engineering. She has also contributed instruction on Aerospace theory at HU Public Charter Middle School of Math and Science.
- Women in Science and Engineering Award (1997)
- NASA Goddard Honor Award
- Washington Award (2016)
- Women’s Network - Top 18 Women Who Will Change the World
- Elected to the Howard University Board of Trustees (2004)