Houston’s First Cyber Engineers

The News Magazine of HBU

“We will arise and build.”

By Dr. Stanley A. Napper, Provost and Founding Dean of Engineering

“It’s an exciting time for the College of Science and Engineering (COSE) as we recognize our first engineering graduates and honor God’s provision and abundance on our college. The engineering majors now make up one-third of the COSE student body, which represents significant growth for a program that is just four years old. We have a long-standing tradition of preparing students for success in industry, research labs and professional health careers. COSE will continue to build upon these strengths and expand professional opportunities for all COSE majors that they may impact their future communities and spheres of work for the Kingdom of God.” – Dr. Katie Evans, Dean of College of Science and Engineering

The Launch

In May of 2015, HBU President Dr. Robert Sloan formed an Engineering Advisory Board to study the needs in the Houston metro area for a new college of engineering. This group recommended that HBU proceed with creating a program in cyber engineering as a first step.

Dr. Stanley Napper joined HBU in 2017 to become the founding dean, and on Sept. 19, 2017, the HBU Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the College of Engineering. The mission of the College is to educate and train engineers who will utilize God-given resources and God-given talents to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and serve humanity by making the world healthier, more productive and more secure. This mission is impactful, unique and critically needed.

 THE HBU ENGINEERING PROGRAMS PROVIDE:

  • the ONLY BS degree program in cybersecurity in Houston,
  • the ONLY engineering-based cybersecurity degree program in Houston,
  • Unique integration of STEM, IT, Faith
  • Unique integration of project-based learning and industry engagement, and
  • Unique integration of cybersecurity, mobility, IoT, data analytics, and project management

THE FIRST GRADUATES

With the graduation of the first 11 graduates on May 13, 2022, HBU is on its way to fulfilling its distinct mission. These graduates demonstrated extraordinary foresight in choosing new degree programs, and extraordinary persistence in navigating the challenges of a rigorous curriculum demonstrated through a series of increasingly complex projects.

In their first year, each student built a robot, a computer, a Smart Factory (two sensors and three control devices) and an open-ended design project. The freshman year projects for this group included a smart deadbolt (the “Live” Bolt), a smart football helmet to detect possible head injuries, a photosensitive window shade and a smart lock. By the time this group of graduates completed their senior capstone design projects, they were able to design and build a dashboard to publicly report crimes for Crime Stoppers of Houston, a vintage arcade video game (for the engineering students club), a smart firefighter monitoring and tracking system and a campus delivery robot.

These graduates completed internships in large corporations, small companies, campus units and through extracurricular learning. Many of these students undertook an immersive cybersecurity “bootcamp” at HBU, sponsored by the University’s Houston Cyber Education Center and its corporate partner Cybint (currently ThriveDX).

These students won interstate cybersecurity competitions through the National Cyber League, and through AFCEA, originally known as the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, in San Antonio, Texas.

Graduates have been offered jobs in large organizations (e.g., Chevron, NASA, Excelsys), and small businesses, or plan to work independently in the gig economy.

GRATITUDE

When the program began, the projected need for faculty and staff, for laboratory facilities and equipment, and for growth in capacity, was $2.3 million. The Lord God provided all of the resources needed and met needs we had not even anticipated. As of May 2022, the college has received over $6.9 million.

We are especially grateful to the Cullen Trust for Higher Education ($2.5 million), the William Stamps Farish Foundation ($750,000), the M.D. Anderson Foundation ($300,000), the Fondren Foundation ($250,000), and the SIM Houston Chapter ($100,000). We are grateful to Holly Frost and Kathaleen Wall who provided over $3 million in scholarship funds given directly to students in science and engineering, since 2019. In addition, HBU was awarded $3 million over five years (2019-2024) from U.S. Department of Education (Title V funding) met additional laboratory needs and provided support for success in STEM degree programs.

We are grateful for the gift of $20 million from Jim and Sherry Smith to launch the campaign for a new and renovated Science, Engineering, and Nursing building. This lead gift towards a projected $50 million need, has stimulated other gifts that enable the University to be above 60 percent of the overall campaign goal.

The first 11 graduates of HBU’s engineering programs might be called “Houston’s First Cyber Engineers.” Nehemiah might be called the world’s first cyber engineer. Facing outsider threats, insider threats, fake news, “business e-mail compromise” and other analogous cyber threats, he required every worker to carry a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other, seeking God for security and for resources.

As Nehemiah said (Neh. 2:20), “The God of heaven will grant us success; and we will arise and build.”

 

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