April 2011 Senior Banquet and Order of the Engineer Induction

View the video of Williams’s address
View photos from the banquet

Keynote Speaker: Stephen L. Williams

Stephen L. Williams earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech in 1986. He went on to earn both an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. After graduation from Michigan Tech, Steve began his career in his hometown of Cadillac, MI at Cadillac Rubber & Plastics as a Project Engineer.

In 1988 he moved to TRW Vehicle Safety Systems as a Project Engineer working on the first production airbag systems in many of Ford Motor Company’s vehicles. In 1990 he accepted a Project Engineering position at Chrysler Corporation in Vehicle Impact and Analysis. In 1992 he became Design Engineer responsible for all Jeep and Truck driver airbag systems, including the first production driver airbag system in a sport utility vehicle. From these assignments at Chrysler, Steve confirmed his true calling was in automotive engineering. For the next two decades he experienced a progressive ascension in responsibility at Chrysler. In 1994 he was promoted to Product Engineering Supervisor for all Jeep and Truck passive restraints and steering controls.

In 1998 Steve was appointed Product Engineering Manager for Durango & Dakota Interiors, with responsibilities that included instrument panels, hard & soft trim, seating, seat belts and airbag systems. In 2000, he was appointed Sr. Manager of Safety Investigations & Recall Administration, and acted as Chrysler’s primary interface to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2005 he was appointed Sr. Manager of Ram Truck Vehicle Development & Synthesis. In this role Steve was responsible for the overall vehicle development on all Ram 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500 pickup and cab/chassis applications. During this assignment he presided over introduction of stability control in the Ram 1500, launch of the 2007 ½ Cummins BlueTech diesel and 6 speed heavy duty transmission as well as launch of the highly awarded 2009 Ram 1500 pickup. Upon launch of the 2009 Ram, Steve was promoted to Director of Engineering Quality. In this position he built a new organization from the ground up, with a focus on improving Chrysler’s performance relative to vehicle functional objectives, durability, reliability and issue resolution. In 2009, Steve returned to Engineering and was promoted to the position of Vice President, Innovation and Pre-program concepts. In this position, he was responsible for all advance vehicle engineering, innovation, new feature planning, Global Electric Motors (GEM), design for six sigma and cost and methods planning. In March of 2010, Williams, 46, was appointed Vice President of Advance Vehicle Engineering, Planning & Regulatory Affairs. As the company continued to focus its efforts on improving vehicle platform efficiency and reuse, Williams was named to his current role of Vice President, Advance Vehicle Engineering & Vehicle Architecture in December of 2010.

Williams has been recognized as a leader and mentor within Chrysler Engineering, He has sponsored over 15 Chrysler Institute of Engineering students as they progressed through their career and now is the executive in charge of the CIE program. He also frequently speaks to groups within the company on career planning and development and is the recipient of 2 U.S. patents. In addition to his primary responsibilities at Chrysler, Williams also represents the company in multiple industry organizations. He is the Chrysler Vice President for USCAR, a collaborative pre-competitive research organization funded by Ford, General Motors and Chrysler and the Department of Energy. He also is a founding member and innovation board advisory director of AutoHarvest Foundation, a virtual automotive innovation marketplace. Williams has been an SAE member for 21 years.

Steve is Chrysler’s key executive liaison for Michigan Tech and a longtime supporter of the University. He is also an active alumnus of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Michigan Tech, and has supported the fraternity in both leadership and financial capacities since his graduation. He is currently serves on the capital campaign steering committee for the Fraternity and as an officer mentor.