Nicholas Belbas, Class of 2022 | Bachelor of Science in Cyber Engineering Cybersecurity Defense Analyst, Chevron, Aug ’22
Nicholas Belbas has been exposed to the field of engineering for as long as he can remember. Born to parents who were both professional engineers, his mother, a mechanical engineer for NASA and BP and his father, a chemical engineer for Cognis and BASF, it was no surprise that he chose to pursue a degree in the engineering field.
A Class of 2022 spring graduate, Nicholas was among the first cohort of students to graduate from HBU’s College of Science and Engineering (COSE) which opened its doors in 2018 under the leadership of founding dean of engineering and now, HBU Provost, Dr. Stanley Napper.
Not only a top student in HBU’s cyber engineering program, Nicholas’ entrepreneurial pursuits and community service also earned him the 2020 Stewart Morris Scholar Award presented by the Texas Business Hall of Fame. The award is funded by Houston business leader and HBU founding father, Stewart Morris, former Chairman of Stewart Title Company and Chairman Emeritus of Stewart Information International, who is also a 1995 Texas Business Hall of Fame inductee.
A homeschooled student throughout his life, Nicholas participated in FIRST Robotics, a mentor- based program that teaches science, engineering and technology, and honed his analytical and technical skills. As lead programmer, he and team members took top awards in numerous robotics competitions.
“I did competitive robotics for eight years all the way until I graduated from high school, and the teams I was on made it to World Invitationals twice and the World Championship three times,” shared Nicholas.
With a singular focus on his goals, Nicholas began working as an intern in a robotics and sensor platform development role in the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Crew and Thermal Systems Division in 2016. He later attended a cybersecurity camp at a local college, led by an instructor who would later become a professor at HBU, which sparked his interest in the field of cybersecurity. The opening of HBU’s College of Science and Engineering in 2018 would provide him with an opportunity to explore his interests.
“My sister had been attending HBU since 2015, so we were getting the Pillars Magazine to our house, and my dad was flipping through the magazine when he saw a page advertising the new College of Engineering at HBU,” said Nicholas.
Nicholas attended an open house for new engineering students and was given an overview of the engineering programs by Dean Stanley Napper and was impressed.
“The fact that a Christian university offered an engineering program, was in Houston, and gave good scholarships for high ACT scores, all seemed like it was the perfect match for what I had been trying to find,” said Nicholas.
The smaller class sizes and Christian environment, where spiritual values were taught, were also appealing qualities that led Nicholas to enroll in the College’s cyber engineering program.
“One thing I liked about HBU from the start is that the classes are much smaller than you might find at other universities. Some people might not like that, but it gives you the option to work more closely with your professors and get to know them. Also, the professors get to focus more on each student and help them understand the content rather than blasting lectures out to a big audience and hoping that the students who don’t understand just “figure it out,” said Nicholas.
In the program, he and fellow students had the opportunity to tour the Medical Center’s Cyber Defense Center and Chevron’s Pipeline Monitoring Center and also took part in hands-on projects through the National Cyber League. When not studying, he worked as a teaching assistant for various engineering classes and also helped students with their coursework after work hours.
Understanding the importance of networking, Nicholas took part in job fairs hosted on campus and valued HBU’s smaller size which enabled him to leave a memorable impression with companies. Through one of those fairs, Nicholas met representatives from Chevron and was interviewed and later offered an internship.
“I got the internship and was invited back for a second internship in 2021, and now I have a full-time job with them that I will be starting in August,” shared Nicholas.
He has accepted a position to begin working at Chevron as a cybersecurity defense analyst this summer and will be using the knowledge gained in his cyber engineering classes and internships in his new role.
Nicholas encourages students interested in pursuing an engineering degree to consider HBU and apply as soon as possible. Once enrolled, he encourages students to not hesitate to ask questions on concepts they don’t understand, watch YouTube videos on various cybersecurity conventions and keep up-to-date on news in the industry.
His long-term goal is to start his own cyber security solutions firm in Texas.