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Aprille Ericsson Jackson 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 degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

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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 with a focus on increasing the number of women and minorities in STEM fields. Ericsson also created an email pipeline for under-represented groups in the technology field aimed to announce federal grants and jobs.


“I feel obligated to continue to help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines,” Ericsson Jackson has said. “Without diversity in all fields the United States will not remain technically competitive.”

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.

PHOTO: NASA Goddard Flight Center

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Little Known Black History Fact: Aprille Ericsson Jackson  was originally published on