Aprille Ericsson-Jackson, NASA Engineer
By Jairi Diaz
Special to the Enterprise
Aprille Ericsson-Jackson is the oldest of four daughters and was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1963. She lived in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood into her teens, but at the age of 15 she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend the Cambridge School of Westing on scholarship. There she lived with her grandparents and continued her education.
Ericsson-Jackson mentions that there were multiple events in her school life that led her to the engineering field, one being attending the MIT UNITE Science Program for minority students (now known as the Minority Introduction to Engineering & Science) which she participated in her junior year of high school. It was participating in this program that encouraged her to explore the aerospace field.
After graduating high school, Ericsson-Jackson was admitted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Minority Introduction of Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Science program. At MIT, Ericsson-Jackson was involved in many aerospace research projects and led the research for Manned Mars Mission Crew systems for interplanetary vehicles for her senior project. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical/astronautical Engineering in 1986.
During her college years, she spent most of her engineering career working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center where she began as an aerospace engineer in the Robotics group. She was then transferred into the area of Navigation and Control. She played important roles in other space initiatives such as NASA’s Tropical Rain Measuring Mission which observed the weather cycles of El Niño and La Niña to be able to correlate their activity with crop productivity. Her other projects include: the Wilkerson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the ICESat-2 Atlas (Ice, Cloud, & Land Elevation Satellite).
Ericsson-Jackson continued her education at Howard University in Washington, D.C.,where she focused on developing practical design procedures for future orbiting space structures like the International Space Station. She earned both her Master’s in Mechanical Engineering and became the first African American female to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and first African American female at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering.
Ericsson-Jackson assumed the position of New Business Lead for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Systems and Technology Division in 2017 and has been there since. She currently serves as the engineering representative on the Astrophysics, Heliophysics, Planetary and Earth Science and Cross-Cutting Technology Lines of Business. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson advocates for minorities and females to take an interest in the math, science, and engineering fields, she explains that “Without diversity in all fields the United States will not remain technically competitive.”
In this week’s Junior Builders Summer Camp, campers learned about simple machines and solved building challenges. Following in the footsteps of Ericsson-Jackson, campers spent a day making circuits, building small rockets, and designing space shuttles.
Explorit's coming events:
• Explorit will be CLOSED to the public August 19-September 1 for the installation of our next exhibit.
• Last day to visit our exhibit “Explorit Rocks!” and explore rocks, fossils, minerals, and crystals is Friday, August 18. Open to the public on Fridays from 1-4pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-2pm. Admission is $5 per person. Explorit Members, ASTC, and those age 2 and under free.
• Now is a great time to donate and help Explorit continue to educate and inspire the scientists of tomorrow: https://www.explorit.org/donate
• A Membership to Explorit grants the recipient free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, summer camps and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits to visit other museums throughout the world. To purchase or for more information visit https://www.explorit.org/membership or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.
• Now booking school programs for the ’23-’24 school year. For more information, please visit https://www.explorit.org/programs. To reserve call (530) 756-0191.