Breaking the mould: aerospace and aeronautical engineering careers are out of this world!


bwWhat do you think about when you hear aerospace or aeronautical engineer? NASA? Spaceships? Bruce Willis in Armageddon? Lots of super intelligent men in glasses with twenty Ph.D’s, sitting around huge screens of deep, dark space? Well you would be partly right. An aerospace engineer (or aeronautical engineer) is the type of engineer that would be involved with the design, development, construction, testing, science and technology of any spacecraft.

Where you would be wrong (apart from the Bruce Willis bit) is ‘the super intelligent men in glasses with twenty Ph.D’s’ part. Not that these people aren’t extremely clever, it’s just you’d be surprised to find a lot of these people got their jobs through engineering and graduate internships. And they don’t have twenty PHD’s. Some of them have one, some don’t have any. And lots of them are college or university engineering graduates.

Engineering in the 21st century is all about breaking the mould and changing stereotypes. Did you know that even today there is still a huge divide in gender roles in the work place? For example, the percentage of men and women with degrees in engineering. We think it’s time this changed!stats

 

Ever heard of Aprille Ericsson-Jackson? Probably not. But you should definitely know about her.

aprielleBorn and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Aprille was the oldest of four children. Born to a civil engineer father and a stay at home mother, Aprille grew up in a typical working class environment, where graduating from high school was an exception, not an expectation.

She first realised that she had a natural talent for maths and science whilst at high school and joined a Special Progress progamme, mostly consisting of boys. In her final year of high school, she won second place at the Science Fair and was doing fairly well in her school exams. As well as maths and science, Aprille was an active student in sports such as basketball, softball, cycling and tennis.

After graduating high school, she applied and entered college at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a prestigious college with many notable alumni, and received her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical/Astronautically Engineering. During her undergraduate years at MIT she was involved with several projects that were geared toward manned space flight.

So why is this lady so special? Not only was she the first female to receive a Ph.D in mechanical engineering from Howard University, she was also the first female African-American to receive this Ph.D. from both Howard University and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Currently, she is working full time as an aerospace engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the Guidance, Navigation and Control and Design Analysis section.

To help spur the interest of minorities and females in the engineering disciplines, Aprille 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. She has also created an e-mail pipeline for under-represented groups in the technology fields to distribute the announcements for federal grants and employment.

In 1996 and 1997 she was acknowledged by the National Technical Association for being amongst the Top 50 minority women in Engineering. In May of 1997 she received the Women in Engineering award for being the best female in the Federal Government in 1998. In February of that year she received a Special Recognition Award at the Black Engineers Award Conference.

Aprille Ericsson-Jackson: Well and truly breaking the mould. Check out more of her story on pinterest.

Basically, what I’m trying to tell you is that absolutely anyone can become an engineer and go on to become an icon. It’s time to tear down stereotypes of what makes an engineer and break the mould. Men, women, black, white, purple… Whatever you like! Check out what other people have to say about it on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/endgaim

Join in the buzz with #endgaim and see what people just like you are saying about the exciting opportunities a career in engineering has in store for you.

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