UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After growing up in central Pennsylvania, Dan Hansel, 2007, has an affinity for two things: Penn State and hunting. Now, as an alumnus of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), he’s found a way to blend those passions in a digital journal that hunters can use for predictive analytics to track animal patterns.
The initial concept for the app, TrophyTracks, began during Hansel’s childhood.
“I’ve been hunting since I was 12 years old,” he said. “I used to keep my notes in a little notepad, and that’s what led me to the idea for TrophyTracks.”
Fast forward to 2012, when, thanks to the foundation he built while a student in the College of IST, he began to bring his idea to life. He tapped into networks he’d built in IST and through his role as an assistant IT director at Penn State, and began to develop the app in 2017.
It was those fellow IST alumni who told him about a University initiative that helps new businesses get started called Happy Valley LaunchBox.
“The alumni network of the College of IST was very helpful,” he said. “I applied [to the LaunchBox] and got in.”
With the help of his alumni network, Happy Valley LaunchBox and some dedicated volunteers, Hansel was able to fine tune his ideas for the app and differentiate it from similar technology. Other hunting apps are proficient at providing mapping and detailing property lines, he said, but they don’t provide the in-depth details that hunters need to be successful.
That’s where TrophyTracks comes in. Not only does the app provide geolocation and mapping services, it also allows users to track moon phases, sunrises, sunsets and incoming weather patterns – all while letting users keep notes that can help them better track the animal they are hunting.
Hansel notes that the app could have a wide appeal, as hunting is a popular pastime in the region.