The Founding of the College of Engineering

The Founding of the College of Engineering

Submitted by Dr. Stan Napper, founding dean of the HBU College of Engineering.

Need for Engineering Graduates

In the United States, approximately five to seven percent of bachelor’s degrees are awarded in fields that are based on science and technology, including engineering. In other major developed nations, approximately 40% of the undergraduate degrees are awarded in engineering, science or technology. A landmark study called “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” summarizes this gap and the consequences to our national economic advantages. While there may be economic cycles, long-term trends in innovation and implementation of technology offer long-term stability.

The Houston metropolitan area, which includes more than 6.5 million residents and is home to 20 Fortune 500 headquarters, has only four universities that offer accredited baccalaureate degrees in engineering (of which only two are in Harris County). These colleges collectively graduate less than 1,000 engineers per year with BS degrees. In this same region, less than 500 computer scientists graduate annually from six colleges. In addition, thousands of high school students in West Harris and in Fort Bend County (Sugar Land, Missouri City and Katy) live in reasonable proximity to HBU’s West side location.

Need for Cyber Professionals

The need for engineers and scientists who can design and secure information and control systems is large and growing:

300,000 jobs for cyber professionals in the US (2 million globally)

Over 3,300 jobs for cyber professionals in the Houston area (20,000 in Texas)

Cyber workforce needed for business vitality in Houston in Energy, Healthcare, Maritime, Banking and Finance, Legal, Education and other industry sectors

US Department of Homeland Security has identified 16 critical infrastructure industries, all of which are present in the Houston metro area

The Public Health Service (of US DHHS) says cybersecurity is a major public health concern – cybersecurity breaches are more than just privacy issues; they are actual health threats.

Engineering Advisory Board

Following the vision of Dr. Robert B. Sloan, HBU president, and led by Chairman W. Carl Glaw, HBU’s Engineering Advisory Board began meeting in May of 2015 to study the possibility of establishing a College of Engineering. The Board, which now includes about 75 leaders, includes industry experts in engineering and IT. Members conducted a literature review, analyzed labor market data and collected information from industry partners to determine areas of possible growth. Based on this information, the focus of the Board quickly centered on creating a degree program in Cyber Engineering as a first step in building programs under a College of Engineering. The Cyber Engineering program is unique to this region, and will result in the production of highly sought-after graduates in this emerging professional field. Members of this Board represent major companies and agencies, and are responsible for securing the physical and digital systems of their stakeholders. Some Board members have also served on advisory boards for academic engineering programs at Texas A&M University, University of Houston, and Louisiana Tech University.

Vision

The vision of the College of Engineering at HBU is to be the best in the world for integrating fundamental principles of science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM), and modern computing and information technology (IT), with historic Christian values and standards (Faith) to serve God and serve mankind. These three “pillars” (STEM, IT, Faith), supporting each other and supporting each graduate, meet a significant need in the world of 21st-century challenges, and uniquely position HBU as a preparer of talent for the workforce, the community and the world.

Mission

The mission of the College is to educate and train engineers who will utilize God-given resources and God-given talents to serve humanity by solving technical challenges efficiently and securely. HBU Engineers serve the Lord Jesus Christ and serve mankind by making the world healthier, more productive, and more secure.

Majors and Programs

The Houston Baptist University College of Engineering will (pending SACSCOC approval) initially offer a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. These programs have been designed to provide high-demand skills and knowledge in the areas of network security, software development, security analysis, control systems design and security.

Distinctives

The programs in the College of Engineering will be distinguished by these major emphases:

Project-based Learning

College of Engineering students will learn to address cyber-related issues (e.g., security, internet of things, embedded systems, software protection, network defense, programming, mobility) from the beginning of the freshman year. The first-year projects curriculum utilizes a versatile hardware platform (mobile electronics kit, computing kit) to provide students hand-on projects while learning the intricacies of engineering and computing that results in an immersive learning environment. Learning in the context of an actual problem that requires a physical and practical solution cultivates problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and other non-technical skills. Students will look at problems (typically in the cyberspace domain), design algorithms and propose them as solutions, and analyze them.

Curricular Threads

Curricular threads are broad themes or topics that appear in many, if not all, courses in a degree program, rather than, or in addition to, special required and elective courses at the end of a four-year degree. These themes will appear to some degree in all of the HBU College of Engineering programs. Curricular threads include Cloud Computing (storage, access, security), Cyber-security, Mobility (wireless networks, mobile devices, Internet of Things), Data Analytics (Big Data, Machine Learning) and Project Management.

Industry Engagement

God has blessed HBU with an enthusiastic and influential Engineering Advisory Board. Through that Board, and through unexpected (divine) appointments, many industry executives have agreed to advise and support the College. A number of Chief Information Officers and Chief Information Security Officers have become involved. They represent large energy companies such as Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Shell, Schlumberger, National Oilwell Varco; healthcare systems such as Memorial Hermann Health System, University of Texas Health System, Houston Methodist Health System; and maritime security organizations such as the American Bureau of Shipping, and several regional ports.

These industrial partners and individuals will support the College as they:

Provide mentored learning and work experiences for students (apprenticeships, internships, summer or temporary employment)

Assist HBU with development of infrastructure (laboratory equipment, instrumentation, space, and other program development support)

Provide adjunct instructors and guest lecturers when requested

Interview and recruit graduates from HBU CoE

Advise on curriculum design, assessment, and improvement

All students in the College of Engineering will complete a year-long senior project, directed by faculty but sponsored by industrial partners. In addition, all students will complete at least one professional education experience (i.e., internship). HBU staff will assist students in identifying internship opportunities from among many corporate partners.

Engineering-based Cyber Programs

Cybersecurity courses, certificates, and degrees are now offered at many community colleges, professional training organizations, and universities. Most of these degrees are administered through a College of Business or a College of Technology (as Information Assurance or Information Systems), where their US Department of Education CIP code (Classification of Instructional Programs) defines the focus of their programs as “assess”, “recommend” and “manage.”  Some of these degrees are administered through a College of Science (as Computer Science) where their US CIP code defines the focus of their programs as computer theory, computing problems and solutions, and the design of computer systems and user interfaces. Engineering programs, however, focus on using math and science to “solve” “practical problems” or to “design” solutions.

No university in Texas offers a similar program to the B.S. in Cyber Engineering at HBU. While Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degrees are available, the demand for graduates of these programs, for jobs in many industries, is very large. And no other Electrical Engineering or Computer Science degree in the Houston metropolitan area focuses on curricular threads and projects that include cybersecurity or the other threads identified above.

Christian Principles and Foundation

Of the 489 colleges in the US that offer engineering programs that are accredited (by ABET, www.abet.org), only 63 of these identify as Christian colleges. Of these Christian engineering colleges, many offer only general engineering degrees rather than program or discipline-specific degrees. Of the 20 largest cities in the US, only one other large city (in Seattle, the 18th largest city) offers Christian engineering education. Houston Baptist University will offer the only engineering education programs in a major metropolitan area, outside the northwestern US. The mission of HBU is to provide a learning experience that instills in students a passion for academic, spiritual, and professional excellence as a result of our central confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord”.

This mission of the College of Engineering is important to the faculty and administration, and to the students. But it is also important to the information security managers and other corporate executives who need engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity professionals that are ethical, consistent, and principled. Such employees can help reduce the insider threat (from both negligent and malicious employees) and improve the security of an organization’s operational technology and information technology. This distinctive of the HBU College of Engineering programs has become the most popular and appealing aspect, as more corporate executives become aware and supportive of the College and its mission.

What to Expect of the College of Engineering

Students in the College of Engineering can expect to learn fundamental engineering, science and math principles, and to learn how these topics relate to one another to enable problem-solvers to create innovative and implementable solutions. Students can expect to utilize modern computing and information technology effectively and securely. Students can expect to learn how biblical Christian values will help them to serve God and serve humanity through technical and creative problem-solving. Students can expect to be challenged, to be motivated, and to develop as leaders.

*(The College of Engineering programs are pending approval from the regional accrediting body, SACSCOC.)

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