Aprille Ericsson (b. TK)
One day in high school changed Aprille Ericsson’s life. During a trip to an Air Force base, the Brooklynite had the chance to sit in the aircraft control tower and she knew: She wanted to do this for a living. And so Ericsson went to MIT and majored in aeronautical/astronautical engineering. Her plan was to join NASA but her moral code kept her from applying right away. According to Ericsson, in 1986, the year she graduated form MIT, “it seemed that all the jobs offered in aerospace engineering were going towards developing President Reagan’s Star Wars strategic missile defense initiative. It is extremely important to me to that the projects I work on are not destructive.” So instead she went to Howard University and became the first African-American female to receive a PhD in mechanical engineering at the institution.
After becoming Dr. Ericsson, her dream to join NASA came true and for the past twenty years she has been an aerospace engineer and instrument manager at their Goddard Space Flight Center. That means that Ericsson deciphers how spacecrafts should be designed in order to perform best during flights. She also oversees a project that will bring dust back from Mars. In addition to her heavy workload, Ericsson makes sure that she is not too busy to inspire other girls. A dedicated motivational speaker, she has participated in Michelle Obama’s Mentoring Program for High School Girls and says “I feel obligated to continue to help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines. Without diversity in all fields the United States will not remain technically competitive.”