A former O’Fallon resident will star in “Hacking the Wild,” a Science Channel series that requires him to find his way out of remote areas using outdoor survival skills and modern technology.
Andrew Quitmeyer, 30, who now lives in Singapore, calls himself a “digital survivalist.”
The reality TV show is based on his dissertation at Georgia Tech and his “hiking hacks,” which involved building survival tools out of laptops or other electronic devices in the wilderness. In an email, Andrew described filming as “intense and crazy.”
“I do lots of work outdoors, but usually working with teams,” he wrote. “Also, usually I am just making scientific tools, not trying to actually survive with what I make. Also, TV people never stop. They keep going nonstop and pushing you.”
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The first of six one-hour episodes of “Hacking the Wild” will be broadcast at 9 p.m. CST Feb. 15 on the Science Channel. Two are set in Hawaii, two in Alaska, one in a Louisiana swamp and one in California’s Death Valley.
“We got to see some really incredible beautiful places, like getting dropped off on top of a glacier in Alaska!” Andrew wrote.
He built a drone out of an animal skull, and he built a high-water sensor because he was in a floodplain near a creek and he needed to know when the water was rising. He also built a fish trap with a gate that would drop down and catch fish.
Suzanne Muren on son Andrew’s creativity
His mother, Suzanne Muren, of Shiloh, has watched the TV series’ pilot, but not final episodes.
“It was pretty interesting,” she said. “He built a drone out of an animal skull, and he built a high-water sensor because he was in a floodplain near a creek and he needed to know when the water was rising. He also built a fish trap with a gate that would drop down and catch fish so he wouldn’t have to spend time fishing. That actually worked.”
Andrew attended Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora three years before graduating from O’Fallon Township High School in 2004. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master’s and doctorate at Georgia Tech.
Andrew has explored “digital naturalism” through adventures in Madagascar, the Philippines, Turkey, Panama, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Appalachian Mountains.
“Digital naturalism investigates the role that digital media can play for biological field work,” according to his website at www.digitalnaturalism.org. “It looks to uphold the naturalistic values of wilderness exploration while investigating the new abilities offered by digital technology.”
Several videos of Andrew’s projects can be found on YouTube. He is co-author of the book “Hacking the Wild: Making Sense of Nature in the Madagascar Jungle.”
Last fall, a production company called Ample filmed “Hacking in the Wild” for the Science Channel.
Andy Quitmeyer is the only person in the world who can survive the way he does — with a unique combination of know-how, tech and stamina.
Marc Etkind on the star of “Hacking the Wild”
“Andy Quitmeyer is the only person in the world who can survive the way he does — with a unique combination of know-how, tech and stamina,” said network General Manager Marc Etkind in a press release. “In ‘Hacking the Wild,’ we mix primitive skills and modern technology to put a scientific spin on survival.”
Andrew moved to Singapore in December with his wife, Kitty Kelly Quitmeyer, a librarian. He’s an assistant professor of new media and interactive art at National University of Singapore.
“I’m teaching students how to design tools for studying and playing with nature in the wild (and) going on jungle field trips where we build and hack together cool stuff to interact with wild animals,” he wrote.
Andrew has several family members in the Midwest, including sister Emily Crapnell, who lives in Noblesville, Ind. His mother is a nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville.
“She is the awesomest,” Andrew wrote. “She’s the entire reason why I came out so adventurous and fun and weird.”