Joel Velazquez majored in mechanical engineering and is pursuing a certificate in cybersecurity. He’s also the Broncos’ punter on special teams.
Joel Velazquez (‘21) came to Boise State University in 2016, recruited to the Broncos football team by coaches Kent Riddle and Bryan Harsin. Now the Broncos’ special teams kicker is also a star student, having recently completed a B.A. in Mechanical Engineering and continuing his education by pursuing a graduate certificate in cyber resilience engineering through Boise State’s new Cyber Operations and Resilience program. We sat down with Velazquez on The Blue to talk about his Boise State experience, being a student-athlete, and why he chose cyber operations as an area of continuing education.
I got an offer from Coach Riddle and Coach Harsin back in 2016, which is a huge blessing. It was a great family environment. We loved the staff, the whole vibe. The culture here was amazing. I just committed as soon as they offered, and it was the best decision ever.
You majored in mechanical engineering. Why come back for a certificate?
I’m here for another year, thanks to Covid. It’s more about the environment we have and the opportunity to keep learning. This is a place that pushes me. I’ve seen growth over the years, and being part of the brotherhood, we’re all just motivating ourselves to get better. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I figured I’d stay another year and just keep absorbing all that.
Are there parallels between your training and your studies?
The focus is a big thing. Especially when you’re the punter, you need to be locked in. It’s the same thing with school. You need to be razor sharp and on top of it, especially in engineering. Tests are an important part of your grade.
How has Boise State supported you as a student-athlete?
How did you choose your primary area of study?
In high school, I had a really good honors physics teacher. She was an engineer who worked in the semiconductor industry. I really enjoyed that class. I’m a pretty big fan of cars and vehicles, and that’s what I was leaning towards. Engineering was a good place to go that route.
Tell us about the cyber resilience engineering certificate you’re pursuing.
It’s part of the graduate Cyber Operations and Resilience program. It’s new. I’m in the very first class, which is awesome. I figure with my mechanical engineering degree, everything’s headed towards cyberspace. Everything’s going cloud-based, pretty much, and I figured it’d just be good for me to get that on my resume and go with the future.
What sold you on the certificate?
One of my mentors, Leo Kilfoy, he has some friends that are in the cyber space. There are a bunch of unfilled jobs in cybersecurity, and I’m also interested in tech companies here in the valley I’d be interested in working for.
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