GIS program ticket into technology world

September 2, 2015 Featured Slider, Latest, News Print Print
Google map of OCCC

Computer Aided Technology professor John Helton said GIS is used for Google Maps. “Most people use it every day, but don’t know exactly what it is they’re using.”

OCCC’s Geographic Information Systems program is a gateway into the world of information and technology that helps shape many of the products the world uses daily, said Computer Aided Technology professor and Department Chair John Helton.

“When you look at what GIS is about, it’s a combination of taking data and mapping it out graphically,” Helton said.

He said GIS is “data brought to life,” because of the way GIS students are able to visualize data to reveal patterns that were previously unseen, or keep track of specific data.

“A simple trip to the Cleveland County assessor’s website to enter your name and address will tell you things like how much you paid for your house, (about) your neighbors and more,” he said.

Helton said a GIS certificate of mastery can be earned with 21 credit hours at OCCC, while an associates in applied sciences is 60 credit hours.

He said the program has about four graduates per semester.

“It’s definitely one of the more overlooked programs here.”

Helton said most of the students who enroll in the program are already employed for oil and gas companies, and municipalities that use GIS.

“For example, GIS allows the oil and gas industry to track their gas and oil lines, in addition to properties like the length of a pipe and the day it was installed,” said Helton.

Helton said many people think they aren’t familiar with GIS but are.

“Most people’s first interaction with GIS is through something like Google Maps,” he said. “Most people use it every day, but don’t know exactly what it is they’re using.”

He said a majority of GIS program graduates go on to work for companies like AT&T, OG&E, Tinker, Cox, USPS and the Department of Transportation.

Oklahoma City was recently ranked as number eight in the top 10 cities to find a job in according to, and a majority of those jobs involve GIS.

Fortune lists the major employers as being the state itself, Tinker Air Force Base and OG&E, among others — all of which involve GIS work.

For more information about the GIS program, visit

, or contact Helton at 682-1611, ext. 7275.

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