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Aprille Ericsson is award-winning aerospace trailblazer who achieved a pair of historic firsts as part of her engineering career. Dr. Ericsson is the first woman to earn her Ph. D in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University, and the first Black woman to obtain a Ph. D in Engineering from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Aprille Joy Ericsson was born on April 1, 1963, the oldest of four daughters raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. An exceptional student, Ericsson moved to Cambridge, Mass. when she turned 15. After graduating from the Cambridge School of Weston, Ericsson entered M.I.T. and left the prestigious institution with a bachelor’s in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

At the urging of her best friend, Ericsson then entered Howard University and earned both her master’s and Ph. D in Mechanical Engineering in Aerospace. Ericsson went on to work for Goddard for its Guidance, Navigation and Control, Design Analysis section.

As a motivational speaker and part of NASA’s speaker’s bureau, Ericsson champions the virtues of STEM courses in schools at all levels and is especially concerned with growing the number of women and minorities in related fields. Ericsson also created an email pipeline for under-represented groups in the technology field aimed to announce federal grants and jobs.

In both 1996 and 1997, Ericsson was recognized by the National Technical Association as one of the top 50 minority women in Science and Engineering. In May of 1997, Ericsson was given the Women in Science and Engineering Award as the Best Female Engineer in the Federal Government.

Ericsson is part of a mission team to bring dust back from Mars for examination.

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