Steven K. Malek Automotive Engineer & Crash Expert

Steven K. Malek, Automotive Engineer & Crash Expert

Steven Malek is an expert in vehicle engineering and heavy vehicle towing with specialized expertise in heavy truck repair. He applies his expertise to vehicle crash investigations, and vehicle towing and recovery disputes.

The bulk of Steven’s two decades of professional experience were spent in manufacturing environments, beginning at Caterpillar and Hamilton Sundstrand before he moved on to the Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois. He worked in various engineering roles at FCA, as a release engineer and quality supervisor covering vehicle powertrain, structures, interiors, and exteriors. In the automotive industry, he performed root-cause analysis and resolution for quality issues in production vehicles, determining the viability of safe and proper repairs. 

Steven has hands-on experience as a heavy vehicle recovery and towing technician. He is experienced operating and performing maintenance on tow trucks, excavators, and other specialized forms of heavy equipment used in the recovery of railroad cars. This includes performing maintenance on heavy truck braking systems and hydraulic components, welding and fabricating, and performing pre-trip inspections.

Steven earned an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and a Masters of Industrial Management in Engineering from Northern Illinois University, where he also earned his BS in Manufacturing Engineering. He holds an active Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Steven is also active in drag racing, having designed, fabricated, and operated drag race vehicles, engines, and chassis. 

Provide technical investigations, crash investigations, accident reconstruction, engineering analysis, and towing and recovery operations analysis.

Vehicle Accident Reconstruction – Inspection of damaged vehicles and components. Site inspection. Review of police report, witness statements, scene photos and other documents. Computational recreation of the accident using facts and scientifically accepted methodology to determine how the accident occurred, including elements within the accident to determine cause(s) of the accident, including the resulting severity.

Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Design, Testing and Manufacturing – OEM manufacturing requirements, vehicle design requirements, validation testing of complete vehicles and manufacturing processes. Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) for products and processes, and trouble shooting and service procedures. Testing pre-production and production vehicles in extreme environments at or above rated capabilities. Manufacturing engineering expertise in paint shop, body shop, trim/chassis, final line, and repair areas, including root cause analysis.

Manufacturing Process and Equipment – extrusion; pneumatic and DC powered tools; hand tools; torque verification means and methods; fit and finish control; statistical process control (SPC); stamping; body-in-white (BIW) structure assembly; adhesives; welding (TIG/MIG/LAW); machining; roll forming; mistake and error proofing; poka-yoke; kaizen activities; operator protection means/methods and operator ergonomics.

Motor Vehicle Failures – Structural; air bag; seat belt; seat retention; steering; brakes; suspension; power lift gate operation; water leak; wind noise; anti-corrosion system; latch operation; window regulator operation; anti-pinch operation; door slam; power train failures and aftermarket products/upgrades, and warranty data analysis.

Motor Vehicle Repair – diagnosis and/or repair of suspension and steering systems; conventional and anti-lock brake systems; closures; window regulators; water sealing; door latches; power lift gate; fuel systems (gasoline and diesel); air bags, seatbelts, head restraints, lighting; electrical; interior/exterior components/systems; exhaust systems, power train systems; aftermarket software programming; engine/transmission/brake upgrades; proper dealer repair procedures; and safety recall repairs. Proper use of service repair tools; equipment; repair procedures and shop operations.

Heavy Duty Equipment, Truck Operator and Mechanic – CDL licensed vehicle operation; medium and heavy-duty trucks and trailers. Rollback trucks; trailers; wreckers; rotators; excavators; wheel loaders; dozers; steam rollers; skid steers; tractors; scissor lifts; small cranes; drop deck trailers; beam trailers and landoll trailers. Heavy vehicle maintenance and field repairs; perform recoveries of automobiles, medium and heavy-duty trucks, trailers, load spills, and locomotive/rail car derailments.

Power Sports Rider, Builder – Operate & maintain snowmobiles, ATVs, side-by-sides, jet skis, wave runners and power boats. Certified in safe boat operation; certified in safe snowmobile operation. Off road/race car vehicle design, fabrication, and testing; NHRA licensed race car driver.

Professional Experience

Robson Forensic, Inc.

Associate

2023 to present

Provide technical investigations, analysis, reports, and testimony toward the resolution of commercial and personal injury litigation involving vehicle collisions, vehicle crashworthiness, engineering issues, mechanical defects, malfunctions, vehicle repair issues for passenger cars, light trucks, SUVs, medium and heavy-duty vehicle, including matters involving towing and recovery operations.

Maggio Truck Center

Towing/Repairs

2019 to present
  • CDL Class A Heavy/Medium duty tow truck operator/Mechanic/Fabricator
  • Maintained Medium and Heavy-duty trucks for the business including maintaining air brake systems and components, troubleshooting electrical systems and powertrain failures.
  • Trailer and liftgate repairs.
  • Perform truck and trailer DOT safety inspections.
  • Heavy duty truck and trailer recoveries.
  • Laborer and operator for train derailments and planned train maintenance (wheel changes and traction motor swap outs).
  • Initial “securing and clearing of the train track rails to be put back into operation.
  • Recovery and rescue of train cars, wheels, and cargo
  • Reposition cargo from load shifts caused by inadequate load securements both on rail cars and tractor/trailer loads.

Collins Aerospace

Principal Engineer, Mechanical Engineer

2022 to present
  • Engineering design for facility test equipment.
  • Mechanical Engineer for the facility on all site test equipment/stands. This includes the new installation and stand prove out for the 220 knot wind tunnel to test Ram Air Turbines.
  • New facility upgrades to allow for new test stand upgrades and installations.
  • Realtime vibration analysis and oil sampling software programs.
  • Lead implementation projects for product engineering.
  • Lead the validation of test software and standards with government officials.
  • Design and develop fixturing and new equipment to test current and new products more efficiently on our test stands.

Stellantis/FCA/Chrysler (Belvidere Assembly Plant)

2011 to 2022
Production Engineering  2021-2022
  • Oversaw powertrain engineers as well as the 1st and 2nd tier suppliers for the engines and transmissions. Managed suppliers for 8’ds for quality control achievement.
  • Led continuous improvement and cost savings initiatives.

Supplier Table Engineer Manager/Electrical Lead  2018-2020

  • Supported the 11 modules on the Jeep Cherokee with Engineering Changes and current build SQA concerns. Managed the Supplier Table Engineers at Belvidere Assembly.

Engineering Manager for Body and Stamping  2017-2018

  • Metal coating and corrosion processes. Enforced and prepared repair procedures that meet government regulations. Reduced build variation in the sheet metal and stamping as well as work to meet EPA standards for our coating systems. Reviewed results in weld destruct booth on our panels.

Engineering lead for the relaunch of the 2017 KL  2016-2017

  • Bridged the launch Engineer and Resident Engineer teams together to help with station readiness which included creating and reviewing the Occurrences and Releases for the plant and proactively creating Quality Matrix’s for the areas of concern.

Resident Engineer First Responder  2014-2016

  • Fielded all the radio calls for Engineering. Quickly performed a 4m1d to rapidly resolve the problem in the plant. Subject matter expert for Engine/transmission mounts and cradles.

B Crew Quality Manager/2nd Shift Quality Manager  2013-2014

  • Responsible for supplier quality and internal quality metrics for the plant on nights. Led salary and hourly operators to meet the plant metrics to ship the highest quality vehicles for FCA. Supported FCA during the launch of the Dodge Dart which included the development phase, prototype builds, and mass production phases with on-the-spot support and collaborative problem solving to achieve manufacturability with high quality.

QVS Supervisor  2011-2013

  • Led QVS supervisor for the 3 crews. Supported and maintained all QVS stations in the plant including inspectors and supervisors. Maintenance, PFS and SOP changes/updates, tracking of defects, CPA findings.

Lin-Mar Towing and Recovery

Equipment Operator and Mechanic

2008 to 2012
  • Maintained Medium and Heavy-duty trucks for the business including maintaining air brake systems and components, troubleshooting electrical systems and powertrain failures.
  • Trained new operators on properly using wreckers and flat beds as well as the booms and wheel lifts that are on the trucks.
  • Prepared new drivers for obtaining their CDL both class B and class A
  • Trailered specialty permitted equipment to job sites, low boy, drop deck, and landoll trailers.
  • Regularly dispatched to car, motorcycle, medium and heavy-duty truck crashes.
  • Drove and operated light and medium duty flat beds, light, medium and heavy-duty wreckers, and rotators.

Hamilton Sundstrand

Senior Engineer – Generator, Quality and Structural Dynamics Engineering

2004 to 2011

Generator Engineering – failure analysis and repair of aerospace generator assemblies, design of test stands for testing, writing engineering change orders. Reviewed government requirements for repairs to what was done and wrote the repair reports that would be sent and bought off by the customer to ship the repaired units back.

Quality Inspection – analyzed defective parts, building failure summary spread sheets, data trending analysis, measuring parts to print specifications and tolerances. This included ultrasonic testing on magnesium castings and dye penetrant inspection.

Structural Dynamics – acoustic testing and analysis, developmental testing, vibration and oscillatory testing and software analysis.

Caterpillar

Manufacturing Specialist/Wheel Loader Assembly Planning

2006
  • Supported articulating front-end wheel loader assembly line issues including weld inspection and CMM room checks. Helped with the development of production line tooling. Handled daily assembly line operator and component problems.
  • Worked with production line assemblers to create tooling and fixtures to assemble wheel loaders more efficiently.
  • Supported new and changed product prototype builds. Helped with trouble shoot problems with the wheel loaders after assembly.

Education

  • M.S., Industrial Management, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, 2011
  • M.S., Interdisciplinary Engineering, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, 2009
  • B.S., Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois, 2006

Continuing Education

  • Vehicle Crash Reconstruction: Principles and Technology, 2023
  • Reactive Black Belt Certification, CTC, Dearborn MI, 2019
  • Kepner-Tregoe Green Belt Certification, CTC, Dearborn MI, 2015

Invited Speaker/Presentations

Forensic Crash Course – Product Liability/Defect Investigations - National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration - Office of Defects Investigation, September 2023

Professional Memberships

  • Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2023-present
  • Towing Recovery Association America (TRAA) 2023-present
  • Clinton Fence Hoppers Snowmobile Club 2023-present
  • Chicagoland Mopar Club 2020-present
  • NHRA Drag Racing League 2009-present

Additional Experience

  • NHRA Member/Licensed Driver for 20 years
  • Build, test and competitively drive drag racing vehicles at a semiprofessional level
  • Illinois Department of Conservation snowmobile safety certified rider (1994-present)
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources snowmobile safety certified rider (2021-present)
  • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Skills and Seamanship Certification (1995-present)

v. 02/14/24

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