Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City

Academic Advisor


Donna Pergrem
Academic Advisor
(405) 945-3215


STEM Scholarship Application



Ryan K. Hightower, PLS
Department Head, Surveying Technologies
(405) 945-8615



These surveyors determine the size and shape of the Earth and the precise location of points on its surface. Geodesy is closely connected to astronomy and has been used to guide the old great sailing ships and today’s water traffic.


With the recent creation of GPS, or global positioning systems, geodesists can tell the exact position of an object on the Earth’s surface—usually within a centimeter. GPS is also used for guiding space satellites and airplanes, to track the movement of trucks and trains, and to help locate people who need assistance.



GPS is possible because 24 satellites circle the earth. Using a transmitter on the ground that can connect with at least three of these satellites, geodesists get a series of coordinates that can tell the exact position of the GPS equipment. This coordinate reference system is the backbone of a mapping project.


The national agency that manages this coordinate system is the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), established by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807. The NGS geodesists help surveyors and other mapping professionals interpret the data they gather when completing surveys to ensure accuracy.


The U.S. Department of Defense also employs several geodesists.