Aprille Ericsson-Jackson was born April 1, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York in the Roosevelt projects, she was the oldest of four and destined for greatness. She was a product of the busing system and attended P.S. 199 in Brooklyn where she excelled in her academics. Ericsson-Jackson found a love for math and science in junior high school. She won second place in a science fair and passed all of her exams with a 90% or better. She excelled in her studies and became an active member of the school band, science club, honors club, and girls’ basketball team. Ericsson-Jackson had to take entrance exams for the top technical high schools in New York; she aced the exams but decided not to attend a school in New York.
Ericsson-Jackson attended the Cambridge School of Weston in Cambridge, Massachusetts and lived with her grandparents. At her new school Ericsson-Jackson excelled in her academics and also joined the girls’ basketball and softball teams for her school and city wide teams. During the summer of her junior year she was accepted into a minority engineering and entrepreneurial program. This was a tough six week program that prepared minority students for the engineering, science and, entrepreneurial fields. Her next step was graduating high school with honors and attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). She graduated from M.I.T. with a bachelor in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering, and was involved in some very prestigious research projects. Ericsson-Jackson was able to assist in developing a fiber optic laser gyroscope; she helped create a database for EVA neutral buoyancy data that was calculated at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Her senior project was to research Manned Mars Mission crew systems for interplanetary vehicles.
Ericsson-Jackson developed a love for manned space mission’s and applied for NASA’s astronaut program but was placed under medical review because of previous health concerns. Her next step was to attend Howard University where she earned a Master of Engineering and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. She became the first female and first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in engineering from Howard University. While attending Howard, Ericsson-Jackson researched practical design procedures for future orbiting space structures. She received funding via fellowships and grants from several sources such as the Pacific Telesis Foundation.
Ericsson-Jackson held an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which helped her land a job with the flight center after receiving her Ph.D. While working at the flight center she worked on several projects such as the X-Ray Time Explorer, the Tropical Rain Forrest Measurement Mission, and the Microwave Anisotropy Probe. She also has become a lecturer to minority women encouraging them to join her field. She also created a pipeline for children who may not have the opportunity to purse engineering. In 1998 Ericsson-Jackson received the Women in Science award for the best female engineer in the federal government. She received recognition at the Black Engineers Award Conference; she also won the Goddard Honor Award for Excellence in Outreach. She was named as one of the 18 women who will change the world by the Women’s Network. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson excelled in a field and time when women were only expected to take care of their homes. She defied social, gender, racial and, cultural barriers to become exactly what she wanted to be. Mrs. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson, we stand on your shoulders.
view the Aprille Ericsson-Jackson video below
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