NASA Engineer To Speak At York Graduation

Dr. Aprille Ericsson, an aerospace engineer at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will address graduates at York College’s 41st commencement exercise on June third, 2011.

Dr. Ericsson, the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University, was born and reared in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of her parents’ four daughters. Ericsson was bussed to the elementary school, P.S. 199 in Brooklyn.

She first realized she had an aptitude for mathematics and science during her attendance at Marine Park Junior High School, where she was the only black student enrolled in the Special Progress program. In her senior year, she won second place in the Science Fair and scored in the 90s on all her Regent and citywide exams.

She passed the exams for all of New York's Technical High Schools, which include Bronx School of Science, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Technical. Ericsson attended Bronx Science and at age 15, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to live with her grandparents where she attended high school at the Cambridge School of Weston.

Dr. Ericsson played basketball and softball in high school and in the Cambridge Recreation Leagues. Today she still enjoys playing a variety of ball games plus cycling and tennis. Her co-ed softball team travels around the country playing.

Ericsson earned her undergraduate degree in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During her undergraduate years at MIT Ericsson was involved with several projects that were geared toward manned space flight. These projects involved working with: the Applied Physics Laboratory, developing a fiber optic laser gyroscope, creating a database for EVA neutral buoyancy data calculated at NASA Johnson Space Center. Senior Project - Manned Mars Mission crew systems specialist for an interplanetary vehicle.

Upon graduation from, MIT, Ericsson’s attended Howard University (HU) in Washington, D.C. There she obtained a Masters of Engineering and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace option.

She is a full-time aerospace engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the Guidance, Navigation and Control, Design Analysis section and is working on a MIDEX project called MAP-Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

To help spur the interest of minorities and women in the math, science and engineering disciplines, Dr. Ericsson is a member of the NASA GSFC Speakers Bureau. In this capacity she has been an Aerospace/Rocketry/Mechanical Engineering Professor, Computer Instructor, Career Advisor, Mentor and Friend.

"I feel it is important to create an early mathematical and/or scientific interest in young people and maintain it throughout their later years,” she says. “I work with all age groups: elementary, middle school, high school and College." As a proposal and application reviewer for NASA GSFC and Headquarters programs, she tries to ensure that there is a fair review of all applicants.

In 1996 and 1997 she was acknowledged by the National Technical Association for being amongst the Top 50 minority women in Science and Engineering. In May of 1997 she received the Women in Science and Engineering award for being the best female in the Federal Government in 1998.

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