ROCKVILLE, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aprille Ericsson, Ph.D., a pioneering African American engineer who is currently an aerospace engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) will be the keynote speaker at the Advancing Tomorrow’s Leaders + STEM (ATLAS) college and career symposium on Saturday, November 7. ATLAS is a signature event of the MdBio Foundation, and is co-hosted by Prince George’s Community College, Prince George’s County Public Schools and NASA GSFC.
ATLAS provides an important opportunity for students to learn about the exciting career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with speakers and activities that encourage and prepare them to further pursue their interests. During the symposium, which is being held as part of the Maryland STEM Festival, students will have the opportunity to explore STEM careers in engineering, cybersecurity, life science, information technology and more.
“We are honored to have Dr. Ericsson join us at ATLAS this fall,” said Brian Gaines, CEO of MdBio Foundation. “Through perseverance and a strong interest in the sciences, Dr. Ericsson has continued to break barriers for females and minorities. We look forward to having her share her inspiring story with students and parents.”
Dr. Ericsson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from MIT, where she was involved in numerous projects related to manned space flight. She then went on to Howard University, earning Masters of Engineering degree and becoming the first female and African American female to earn a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace option. At Howard University, her research focused on developing practical design procedures that can be used in conjunction with optimal digital controllers for future orbiting large space structure systems like the Space Station.
Dr. Ericsson also is the first African American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and has received numerous honors throughout her career. Most recently, in May 2015, she was named No. 8 in Business Insider’s list of the “23 of the most powerful women engineers in the world.” She also has been acknowledged by the National Technical Association for being amongst the Top 50 minority women in Science and Engineering, as well as receiving the Women in Science and Engineering award for being the Best Female in the Federal Government and a Special Recognition Award at the Black Engineers Award Conference.
The majority of Dr. Ericsson’s engineering career has been spent working at the NASA GSFC, first in Robotics and then with satellite projects as part of the Guidance Navigation & Control Group. For more than 10 years, she was an Instrument Project Manager, with responsibilities for projects ranging in cost from $10 million to $500 million. She also served a year as deputy to the chief technologist of NASA GSFC’s Applied Engineering and Technology Division. Currently, Dr. Ericsson is the Small Business Innovative Research program manager at the agency.
To help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines, Dr. Ericsson is a member of the NASA GSFC Speakers Bureau, serving as a professor in aerospace, rocketry, mechanical engineering; a computer instructor; career advisor and mentor. She also has created an e-mail pipeline for under-represented groups in the technology fields to distribute the announcements for federal grants and employment.
"I feel it is important to create an early mathematical and/or scientific interest in young people and maintain it throughout their later years,” Dr. Ericsson said. “I like to encourage students to shoot for the moon, because even they miss it, they will still be amongst the stars.”
ATLAS Symposium Agenda
The ATLAS Symposium will take place in the Largo Student Center at Prince George’s Community College from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 7. It will kick off with Dr. Ericsson’s keynote address at 10:15 a.m., and be followed by a College and Career Expo, which includes career and leadership panels focusing on engineering, science and technology. During the expo, students will have the opportunity to meet and network with STEM professionals; learn about college and education advancement opportunities; find paid and unpaid internships, and scholarships. A free lunch is provided. Parents also have the opportunity to attend an information session at 1 p.m. to learn about financial aid, colleges and potential careers for their children.
For more information, please visit the ATLAS Symposium website. The event is free to attend for students, parents and teachers, but registration is required.
About MdBio Foundation
MdBio Foundation is a charitable non-profit organization that provides innovative, effective, and experiential STEM education opportunities with a focus on bioscience. The Foundation’s interdisciplinary approach uses science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to explore real-world, problem-centric curriculum that bridges school, community, health, and business. MdBio Foundation’s flagship education program MdBioLab, a mobile laboratory for high schools, has provided quality educational experiences to more than 110,000 students throughout the state of Maryland since its launch in 2003. The Foundation also operates other celebrated STEM education programs such as the Young Science Explorers Program for middle school students, the Maryland BioGENEius Award, and ATLAS: Advancing Tomorrow’s Leaders + STEM college and career symposia. For more information, visit www.mdbiofoundation.org.