Shyu swears in first defense assistant secretary of science and technology

By Georgina DiNardo / April 1, 2024 at 10:04 AM

Heidi Shyu, defense under secretary for research and engineering, administered the oath of office to Aprille Ericsson Friday, swearing her in as the inaugural defense assistant secretary for science and technology.

“Ericsson will oversee a broad range of S&T portfolios aimed at helping the department achieve leap-ahead defense capabilities, including the [four] areas of critical emerging technology Shyu prioritized as critical for national security,” a Defense Department press release said.

On top of establishing Ericsson’s new position, DOD created two other new research and engineering defense assistant secretary positions in July: defense assistant secretary for critical technologies and defense assistant secretary for mission capabilities.

Ericsson received Senate confirmation on Feb. 28 after being nominated by President Joe Biden last year.

Ericsson said she plans on concentrating on the lines-of-effort outlined in the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy.

"In this complex and rapidly evolving security environment, my vision aims to boost our technical advantages by shepherding our critical and emerging technologies, strengthening our industrial manufacturing base and protecting our intellectual property," she said.

Previously, Ericsson worked at NASA for over 30 years where she recently led the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Instrument Systems and Technology Division’s new business portfolio.

She was the also the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in mechanical engineering from Howard University and the first African-American woman to earn a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center PhD in engineering.

"I welcome and congratulate Dr. Ericsson as the first ASD S&T," Shyu said in the release. "She brings a distinguished record of service as a technologist from her time at NASA and a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility outreach with the HBCU and STEM K-12 communities. I look forward to working with Dr. Ericsson as the department remains focused on fielding the best technology investments across the critical technology areas."