Competing for views: IST student develops app for extreme sports athletes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Thaddeus Lorenz, senior in information science and technology, wasn’t always sure what his academic path would be. After starting at Penn State in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, he took some classes centered on one of his passions: coding. Then, he decided to make it more than just a passion.

Thaddeus Lorenz Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

He officially enrolled in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, where he continued to develop his coding and technology skills throughout his the next few years. That foundation, combined with his passion for extreme sports, led him to conceive the idea for a video-based competition app, called Tourney.

“I got the inspiration from a website that I was involved in before Tourney called Gold Coast League,” said Lorenz. “Clubs at different universities would compete for views against each other and then win a prize from sponsors for the event. [That’s how] I got the inspiration for Tourney. I wanted to make an interface that was simpler to use through mobile.”

Lorenz had previous experience with software programming and app creation, such as SWIFT, an iOS programming language, and Adobe XD, a program used to develop app designs.

“I started working on Tourney last spring, then the development process began in June,” he said. “That took a few months, and now we’re looking to expand it more. Right now, users — both amateur and professional athletes — can upload videos and then compete for views.”

Lorenz explained that those with the highest number of views can then receive prizes, like apparel, equipment and gift cards, from sponsors. Athletes who compete are from Camp Woodward, the world’s top training ground for aspiring athletes, as well as Redbull, Vans, Monster Energy and other sponsors.

College of IST professors also gave him a head start in much of the development process — as well as some networking suggestions.  

“A professor of mine had suggested getting in contact with Jamie Bestwick, who’s a Monster Energy-sponsored athlete and professional BMX rider,” said Lorenz. “So, I just decided to message him through Instagram and he responded, and we ended up working together and he’s been so helpful through it all. He provides me with great insight into the extreme sports world.”

While Tourney has been launched as an app for extreme sports like snowboarding and BMX, Lorenz hopes to expand it further.

“It’s going to expand into competing for views on anything creative,” Lorenz said. “A lot of the app-building process is about narrowing down design. By using programs like SWIFT and Adobe XD, we’ve been able to cut down on the development process by a lot.”

Lorenz says that the connections and education he’s been able to find at IST have been integral to his development process, as well as his professional progress. Now a senior, he says that students coming into IST should take advantage of those connections as he did.

“I’ve had some of the same professors since my first year, and it was really beneficial to be able to build on those connections I’ve made,” he said. “It’s been really helpful to blend what I’ve learned from each class and each professor and apply it in real life.”

Lorenz, who graduates this spring, plans to work for Deloitte in their Global Technology Services division in Chicago while continuing to develop and maintain Tourney.

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Last Updated July 14, 2020