Current Recipient

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson


Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson is the 2016 Washington Award recipient. Born in Brooklyn, NY, educated in the NYC public schools, and later in Cambridge, Ma, Ericsson received her B.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the MIT. She received her Masters of Engineering and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Howard University with an Aerospace option.

Dr. Ericsson is the former Deputy to the Chief Technologist for the Applied Engineering & Technology Directorate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).  Currently, Dr. Ericsson serves as the NASA GSFC Program Manager for Small Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SBIR/STTR). This SBA funded program enables small businesses and small businesses collaborating with universities, respectively, to compete for opportunities to solve selected R&D challenges faced by various government agencies within the United States.

In keeping with the purpose of the Washington Award—recognition of devoted, unselfish, and pre-eminent service in advancing human progress—the Western Society of Engineers acknowledges Dr. Ericsson’s 25 years engineering career the majority of which has been at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the Engineering Directorate.  Dr. Ericsson has also worked at NASA HQs as a Program Executive for the Earth Science Enterprise and a Resource Manager for the Space Science Enterprise. For 10 years, she has been Instrument Project Manager (IM) for various instruments which include: the Near-Infrared Spectrograph on the James Webb Space Telescope, the Project Engineer for the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter which launched April 2009, on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. For 3.5 years she served as the Deputy Instrument Project Manager for ICESat-2’s sole instrument the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS), a $480M lidar instrument that will continue the important observations of ice-sheet elevation change, sea-ice freeboard, and vegetation canopy height begun by ICESat(-I) in 2003.

Dr. Ericsson serves on numerous boards, and in community leadership positions.  She is proud to be the first (African American) female to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from HU; the first American to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, the Aerospace option from HU; and the first African American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at NASA GSFC.

The Western Society of Engineers will present the Washington Award to Dr. Ericsson at the Chicagoland Engineering Awards Benefit on February 26, 2016, during National Engineers Week.

Discover Engineers Week

Engineers Week February 19-25, 2017

Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Engineers Week is the culmination of a year-round portfolio of student programs and competitions. E-Week is celebrated the week of George Washington’s birthday in honor of the first president’s background as an engineer and land surveyor. Through increased interest and competency among students in the pursuit of engineering and technology careers, a more empowered well-educated engineering workforce is sustained.

The National Engineers Week Foundation, now Discover E, is dedicated to promoting pre-college literacy in math and science among parents, educators and students. This year’s E-Week theme is LET’S MAKE A DIFFERENCE. The goal of E-Week is to:

  • Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world
  • Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers
  • Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents

Participation has expanded over the years through a coalition of professional societies, corporations and government agencies. More than a week-long event, Engineers Week is a year-round commitment to making a difference.

Locally, there are a variety of activities designed to stimulate interest in engineering careers and to raise awareness of the profession. Many who participate in these programs will go on to a career in engineering, and those who don’t will have caught a glimpse of the important work engineers do and the career heights they can achieve.

Your participation, contributions and sponsorships are needed in order to sustain these year-long programs and annual E-Week celebrations.

Participating Organizations


Junior High students create a city of the future, complete with transportation, housing, recycling and other key systems.


Teams of students at various age levels and their mentors are challenged to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard “kit of parts” and a common set of rules.


High School students design, build and test bridges to withstand the highest loading given certain criteria.


Sponsored by AAAEA, and open to all students in 3rd—8th grades. Students submit an essay and a poster about an engineer that they admire or have made an impact on their life.

Banquet Info

2022 Chicagoland Engineering Awards Benefit


FEBRUARY 25, 2022

Note: This is a VIRTUAL event

Featuring the 104th presentation of the Washington Award.