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Trailblazing NASA Aerospace Engineer Ericsson to visit UWA Sept. 27

Dr. Aprille J. Ericsson
Community invited to greet first female to earn mechanical engineering Ph.D. from Howard University

The University of West Alabama’s Project Engage 2.0 will welcome aerospace engineer Dr. Aprille J. Ericsson to campus on Thursday, Sept. 27 for two programs. Ericsson comes to UWA from NASA and Washington, D.C. Project Engage 2.0 is a STEM-focused initiative steered by University faculty and supported by a U.S. Department of Education grant.

Ericsson will deliver two single-hour presentations on campus during her visit. She will present at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m., both in Bridges Auditorium at Wallace Hall. Both are open to the public.

Ericsson is regarded as a trailblazing aerospace engineer. She holds a bachelor of science in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first female to receive a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Howard University. She is also the first African-American civil servant female to receive a doctorate in engineering at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

She earned the Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers in 2016, adding her name to a prestigious roster that includes Bill Nye and Neil Armstrong.

In more than 25 years with NASA, Ericsson has worked as an aerospace engineer, technologist, project and program manager, and as an executive. In 2017, she was named New Business Lead for the NASA GSFC Instrument Systems and Technology Division. 

Ericsson has led spaceflight instrument teams and proposal developments for instruments ranging from $15M to $500M. Special assignments include instrument manager for a proposed mission to bring dust from the Martian lower atmosphere back to Earth.

A Brooklyn, NY, native, Ericsson was a 1997 recipient of the Women in Science & Engineering award for the best female engineer in the federal government. In the same year, she was also the NASA representative to the White House.

Ericsson’s work at NASA Goddard has included managing a federal program enabling small businesses, in collaboration with universities, to compete for technological opportunities that solve research and development challenges.

Ericsson, whose vast experience includes structural dynamics, controls, and instrument management of spacecraft missions, was featured on the NBC Nightly News Series “Women to Watch. She has also served as Loaned Executive to the Office of Presidential Management for the Combined Federal Campaign.  

To learn more about UWA’s Project Engage or more details on the Sept. 27 event, contact Dr. Ketia Shumaker at or 205-652-3406.