GIS: Cal U Guiding to a Growing Industry

By On January 15, 2015 4:40 pm

By: Kristie Kubovic, Director of Communications, Shale Media Group
Edited By: Mindy Gattner, Editor, Shale Media Group

A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer data management system designed to capture, store, manage, manipulate, retrieve, and display spatial data. It allows the user to analyze, visualize, question, and interpret the geographical and statistical information to recognize relationships, patterns, and trends. Simply stated, GIS lets the user find, see, and compare items on enhanced maps, which could even be 3-D. Google Maps for example may be the most well-known application that utilizes GIS technology for items like directions.

“GIS is a wide open field. A degree in GIS launches opportunities with government agencies and engineering, technology, and architectural firms. Jobs are possible with utility companies, police departments, and the shale oil and gas industry. In the shale oil and gas industry, land management and public safety are two options,” explained Dr. Thomas Mueller, Professor and Advisor, Department of Earth Sciences, California University of Pennsylvania.

Located in the heart of the Marcellus Shale play, California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) offers a Bachelor of Arts in Geography: GIS and Emergency Management Concentration and Minor in GIS and Emergency Management. Cal U’s main campus is located in California, PA, but the university has an additional location in Southpointe, Canonsburg, PA. Cal U’s Southpointe Center is located among the nation’s top shale oil and gas companies.

California University's Southpointe Center

California University’s Southpointe Center

The Marcellus and Utica Shale plays have reshaped the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. The growth of the Marcellus Shale play in particular has revitalized the region. For instance, the first phase of Southpointe was developed in the 1990’s, but didn’t start to flourish into its current size until the late-2000’s when the shale oil and gas industry arrived. Now a large portion of Pittsburgh’s energy industry and a vast number of shale oil and gas companies, along with Fortune 500 companies, are based there. Southpointe is now known as the ‘Energy Capital of the East.’

The region’s growth, both in population and jobs, has altered its outlook. In a few short years, the median age of Pittsburgh and the surrounding population has dropped from one of the oldest across the country to one of the youngest. Colleges and universities are also assuming a large role in this transformation by educating and training the much needed workforce.

“More students are coming to Cal U, especially from the area. These students are now seeing a possibility of staying in the area, where previously they had to move elsewhere for specific jobs. The prospect of local jobs is something the shale oil and gas industry brought to the region,” relayed Mueller, who has also witnessed an increased interest in his classes due to the rise of the shale oil and gas industry in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Mueller explained, “There is a large GIS component in the energy field itself. Plus in southwestern Pennsylvania, the shale oil and gas industry is very open to working with students. For example, industry experts from Range Resources have prepared questions for our curriculum in order for our students to work with different types of spatial analysis and data sets related directly to the industry.” In addition, Range Resources hosts the EnerGIS, an energy-focused Geographic Information Systems, conference, in which Cal U participates. The third annual conference, EnerGIS 2015, will be held this year on May 18-19.

calu2GIS is also appearing in other fields of study at the university. For example, the more recently developed degree of Jurisprudence/Land Management Concentration, combines law, geology, and GIS to meet the growing needs of the shale oil and gas workforce in the greater Pittsburgh region. For more information on this, click on

The shale oil and gas industry in southwestern Pennsylvania has opened up more opportunities for jobs, which in turn has opened up more options for field of study which has helped local universities, such as Cal U, resulting in a win-win for everyone. For more information on the various GIS options available at Cal U, visit

Shale Media Group (SMG) is the news, information, and education resource dedicated to the shale oil and gas industries by messaging across video, Internet, publications, events, and radio. For more, check out to access all platforms, including SMG’s latest news delivery system–Shale Energy Business Briefing (SEBB), an ad-free subscription based service, where subscribers receive a real-time, daily email, featuring concise, hard hitting shale news 7 days/week, 365 days/year. To sign up, go to Kristie Kubovic is the Director of Communications at Shale Media Group. Contact her at