Inside Seurat with April Cooke Ph.D.: Principal Process Engineer

Welcome to Inside Seurat, where we introduce you to the awesome people on our team that help us achieve our mission of transforming manufacturing for people and our planet.

 

April is pictured here with Seurat's Chief Scientist, Andy Bayramian, at Seurat's 2021 Holiday Party

 

April, tell us about your role at Seurat.


I work on the Process team, which means my role largely encompasses optimizing process conditions to improve printing quality through evaluation of simulation data, empirical testing, and leveraging past experience with other technologies. Additionally, I orchestrate printing operations and printer upgrades with other teams.


You’ve been in metal AM for a while now and have worked with various other additive processes. What’s most unique about Seurat’s manufacturing process?


Seurat’s process shows the most potential for achieving full-scale production than any other process I’ve seen. The laser profile area is 5 orders of magnitude higher than that of conventional Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF), so the speed at which each layer is scanned by our laser is mind-blowing. I cannot wait to see how our technology transforms manufacturing!


You earned your Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D all from UNC Charlotte! Go 49ers! But more importantly, you’ve spent over a decade studying mechanical engineering and have become a domain expert. What has your journey in STEM been like?


There really weren’t a lot of professional female role models throughout my college years and career. I’ve learned some hard lessons in communication and patience.


When I was an undergraduate at UNC Charlotte, I really struggled with some of the early curriculum. I didn’t think I was smart enough to understand the content of my engineering coursework, and when working in groups, I let the opinions of the loudest voices override those of my own –even when I felt like that the “louder” opinions weren’t steering in the right direction. I was so crippled by my apprehension that I nearly dropped out of engineering entirely. A woman named Dr. Patricia Tolley gave me an opportunity to work for her as an admin assistant in the Office of Student Development and Success. She always listened when I had something to say, and she praised good work when I delivered. Her belief in me allowed me to develop confidence and the next year I was hired as a Peer Mentor in a program Maximizing Academic and Professional Success (MAPS). Eventually, in my last semester, I was a Lead Peer Mentor and Teaching Assistant for the first Intro to Engineering course. I went on to finish grad school, complete two Postdoctoral appointments, and be a respected expert in the field of Additive Manufacturing.

 

Her belief in me allowed me to develop confidence and the next year I was hired as a Peer Mentor… and became a Teaching Assistant… I went on to finish grad school and complete two Postdoctoral appointments

 

It is my sincere hope that I can be a role model to someone else like how Dr. Tolley was to me by fostering confidence through the simple acts of listening and empowerment.


What’s something that people don’t know about you?


I detest beets. I hate the way they taste and smell. Please keep them away from me!


Congratulations on your recent promotion to Principal Process Engineer! What advice do you have for people trying to figure out their career path?


Have faith in yourself and your abilities, and always persevere through life’s trials.


Want to work with April? We’re hiring. Please check out our open positions here.