Alumni Spotlight: Nathan Malinick ’13


Auburn alumnus Nathan Malinick can’t remember a time when he didn’t love cars.

He vividly remembers listing all the car companies in the world by memory in the second grade, and he was always sketching cars when he should have been taking notes in school. “Growing up, my dad always had a cool sports car in the garage, and I loved them,” he explained. “I loved not just the beautiful designs, the sounds, the smells and the feel but also the experiences shared with my dad, the joy of going on a drive somewhere.”

Today, Malinick is the Director of Design at automotive builder Hennessey Performance in Houston, Texas, where he oversees concept generation, product development and design for manufacturing. Hennessey’s in-house team designs, engineers and builds special vehicles from the ground up. They manufacture the Venom F5, a $3 million hypercar with a 1,817-hp engine. It is engineered to be the fastest car in the world, with a top speed of over 300 mph.

Malinick graduated from Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD) in 2013, and two weeks later, he moved to California to study at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. While the caliber of the students in the program was intimidating, Malinick’s love of cars and his industrial design education meant he was one of the few in his class to succeed. “A legendary ArtCenter professor told us on our first day that we’d spend a quarter of a million dollars in tuition, only 10 of us would graduate and only three of us would get jobs,” he said. “I began my classes there with 22 students, graduated with 10 and three of us secured jobs in the automotive industry.”

After four years of education at Auburn and almost five years at ArtCenter, Malinick took a job designing jets for Embraer. He helped design the Embraer Pulse, the world’s first executive jet concept, and the Embraer Duet, a collaboration with Porsche. After a year and a half, he began his “dream job” as a designer at Hennessey. Malinick says that car designers are typically not engineers. Still, they have enough engineering knowledge to discuss decisions on issues like tolerances, aerodynamics, load paths, node points, crash structures, H-points, suspension geometries and powertrains. While this sounds highly complicated, Malinick always starts his designs with simple pen and paper. “Car design is this amazing blend of art and science that takes a form in our mind, puts it onto paper or into a digital visualization program and works symbiotically with creative engineers, manufacturing geniuses and the highest skilled technicians to create a living, breathing automobile.”

Malinick’s favorite SIGD classes were the ProTeam Studio with Professor Tin-Man Lau and a professional practice class with Professor Rich Britnell. While he didn’t create any car designs at Auburn other than a two-wheeled, single-seat student transportation device, cars were never far from his mind. “Those who knew me before entering the Industrial Design program would know I was a less than stellar student,” he laughed. “I got my one and only 100% grade at Auburn in an Automotive History class where I wrote a thesis paper on the golden era of car design.”

Malinick says while interiors are becoming ever more important in automotive design, his favorite thing to create is the exterior of a car since it’s what everyone stares at as it drives down the road. His lifelong fascination with the automotive industry means he feels lucky to be where he is and do a job he loves daily. “I definitely would say that I have my dream job, and I’m extremely grateful to the whole Hennessey family. My main objective is to be a creative, a visionary and a dreamer and to design future cars.”

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