InitiativesPublic Interest Technology University Network

Public Interest Technology University Network

Using technology in service of the public good.

Coming together to integrate the fields of technology, public policy, business, law, ethics, governance, and social justice into the field of Public Interest Technology, Penn’s PIT-UN initiative empowers STEM students to address major societal challenges through a cross-disciplinary, collaborative, and open dialogue approach.



The Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) is a partnership of colleges and universities committed to educating students who can better apply technical understanding and practice to questions of individual rights, justice, social welfare, and the public good, particularly for those members of our society least well served historically and today by existing systems and policies.

The Latest From PIT-UN

What can browser history inadvertently reveal about a person’s health?

The Penn-CMU Digital Health Privacy Initiative is trying to answer that question by mapping third-party tracking across the online health ecosystem. Their work shows possible implications for ad targeting, credit scores, insurance coverage, and more.Read More
Event Recap

Skillshare: Scholarly Writing & Civic Tech

Kaitlyn is the author of “The Public Sector Pivot: How Gen Z Will Lead a Renaissance in Public Service”, which discusses the role of young people in the public sector post-pandemic, and how to improve the public sector talent pipeline for college students.  To write her book, Kaitlyn interviewed dozens of passionate people who work in government to tell stories about motivations to enter the public sector and potential areas of growth, such as civic tech.Read More
Event Recap

Biology & Public Interest: A Fireside Chat

The PIT@Penn student group recently held a fireside chat with Dr. Kayla Davis and Dr. George Demiris, who are both work in the intersection between public interest tech and biology.  Dr. Davis has been heavily involved in STEM outreach and science policy, while much of Dr. Demiris’ work focuses on research to use tech solutions to address aging related issues.Read More
Press Release

Public Interest Technology University Network Challenge – Request for Proposals

For its fourth year, projects addressing any of the priority areas below related to public interest technology in university settings are… Read More

Educating the Next Generation of Civically Engaged Technologists

Jerry Seinfeld, in his comedy special “23 Hours to Kill,” acts out the ethical dilemma many technologists face when working with emerging technologies. “Hey, are you sure this is a good idea? You don’t think this one feature all by itself could result in so many pictures, videos, postings, comments, and clap backs, that the entire life force of the human race just drains out like a puddle of …. by the side of the road?” It is a humorous take on the impact of adding a camera to the cellphone and the responsibility engineers have in considering and communicating about the potential societal impact of their inventions. Read More
Richard Ling
Event Recap

A Look Into the Near Future: Opportunities in Public Interest Technology

The Public Interest Technology at Penn (PIT@Penn) student group brought together a panel of recent college alumni who have experience in navigating the challenging world of public interest technology. Sophia Tareen (C'17), Associate Product Manager, Ad Hoc; Lauren Chambers, Technology Fellow, ACLU Massachusetts; Shaanon Cohney (ENG'12, LPS'13, GEN'16, ML'19, GR'20), Lecturer, University of Melbourne; and Richard Link (ENG'20), Founder, SolveOpen talk about their experience in criminal justice, cryptology, environmental sustainability, and more.Read More

Can Human Systems Engineering Help Us Solve Issues of Wellness At Penn?

Penn Engineering students partnered with the SNF Paideia Program to address a contemporary challenge using the theories presented in human system engineering course. The opportunity utilized students’ classroom experience to gain a deeper understanding of current problems in order to benefit the entire Penn community. Not only did the SNF Paideia program learn from student perspectives, the partnership empowered students to exercise their citizenship at Penn by using their academic training to address issues related to student stress and wellness. Read More

Bridging Telecomm with Unconnected Communities

Nikita (Nikki) Zinzuwadia, C'22, spoke with Peter Bloom, C'05 CGS'05, about his public interest technology journey. Since 2009, Peter has been coordinating Rhizomatica, an organization he founded to promote new communication technologies in indigenous, underdeveloped, and unconnected communities. Through Rhizomatica, Peter helped start the first community-owned and managed cell phone network in the Americas in 2013.Read More

Penn PIT-UN Team

Faculty Coordinators

headshot of Michael X. Delli Carpini
Faculty Staff

Michael X. Delli Carpini

Founding Faculty Director
headshot of man with red hair, beard and mustache wearing a light blue button down shirt and blue checkered blazer
PIT-UN Designee

Justin (Gus) Hurwitz

Christopher Yoo headshot

Christopher Yoo

John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer & Information Science; Director, Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition

Steering Committee

Paulo Arratia

Paulo Arratia

Professor, and Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs
Ariana Chao headshot

Ariana Chao

Assistant Professor of Nursing
Student Representative

Nathan Chen

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 2025
George Demiris headshot

George Demiris

Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor
Mecky Pohlschroder headshot

Mecky Pohlschroder

Professor and Undergraduate Chair of the Biology Department
Lyle Ungar headshot

Lyle Ungar

Professor of Computer and Information Science
Student Representative

Kevin Zhou

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 2024

Join PIT@Penn Student Group

A student-run organization founded as part of Penn’s involvement in New America’s Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), PIT@Penn aims to facilitate discourse between Penn students and engineers, scientists, technologists, and policy leaders.