Geographers Propose to Revamp Oil and Gas Education to Meet the Needs of a Changing Workforce

Sep 3, 2015

A new track in Geographical Information Science and Technology prepares students to enter the field from day one.

At a conference for Geographic Information Science (GIS) professionals in the oil and gas industry, two Texas A&M geographers proposed a new track for a degree that is already attracting a lot of students because of its potential for future employment.

Implemented in fall 2014, the GIST (Geographic Information Science and Technology) degree in the College of Geosciences already has 100 students enrolled. Geospatial technology employment outlook is growing at a healthy 35 percent rate, according to the Esri, an international supplier of GIS software and management applications.

Speaking at the international Esri Petroleum GIS conference this spring, David Cairns and Dan Goldberg’s presentation was applauded for filling a vacuum in the industry.

“Very few geospatial technology professionals working in the energy sector are specifically trained for this industry,” said Cairns, department head. “A track emphasizing petroleum industry applications as part of the degree will change that.”

Goldberg said that Texas the oil and gas track in GIST would feature oil and gas data, workflows and experiences. “We also plan to work with industry partners and members of an advisory council to ensure that Texas A&M students have the skills that industry needs when they enter the workforce.”

Andrew Klein, a professor in the program said that it makes sense for geography to have one specialization of its GIS program in oil and gas. “Over the years, it has probably been the largest employment sector for our GIS graduates, and we are in close geographic proximity to Houston. The support we have gotten for our proposed program from the industry and our former students has been outstanding and inspiring," Klein said. 

The presentation was recorded at the Esri conference.

For more information about the GIST program in the College of Geosciences, please contact:

Dr. Michael Bishop
Professor and Haynes Chair in Geosciences