Aprille Ericsson-Jackson knew that she wanted to enter into the field of science from a young age due to a few formative events in her childhood. She spoke about the instances that fortified her interest saying “The first was watching the Apollo missions on TV in school in first grade; the second was me winning second place in the 8th-grade science fair where I built my first science instrument, and third,” Ericsson-Jackson continued to explain in an interview with USA Science & Engineering Festival, “attending the MIT UNITE science outreach program for minority students which I participated in during the summer of my junior year in high school.”
With these events piquing her academic interest she went on to graduate high school with honors and continue her education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, she would receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering. She would then go on to earn a Master’s degree in engineering from Howard University in 1992. After completing her Master’s at Howard, Ericsson-Jackson would go on to accept her first position at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as an aerospace engineer. She would go back to Howard University in 1995 to obtain her Ph. D. in mechanical engineering, becoming the first woman to do so from the university. She was also the first African-American woman at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering.
During her career at NASA, she has been instrumental in many important projects to understand our solar system, which was the focus of her early career. In later years her influence on the orientation of spacecrafts’ during their missions was essential. These are just a few of the types of projects that Ericsson-Jackson worked on at NASA but do not paint a full picture of all of the great work she has done.
In her current role, Ericsson-Jackson is responsible for NASA’s New Business Lead for Instrument Systems and Technology Division. She also has been a big proponent and being a mentor for young girls, especially girls of color, in continuing their education in the fields of math, science, and engineering where she feels they may be discouraged to pursue by others. Her work at NASA and as a mentor has gained her numerous awards, achievements and she continues to do good work for the community today.