Public Interest Technology-University Network

RIT is part of a national initiative advancing the role technology can play to make a difference in a rapidly changing society. The university is producing graduates who understand how technology can be integrated with public policy to drive Technology for Good.

RIT joined the Public Interest Technology – University Network (PIT-UN) in 2020, a national partnership of universities and colleges to build the field of public interest technology and encourage a new generation of civic-minded technologists. The PIT-UN Network seeks to equip tomorrow’s computer scientists, information architects, engineers, data scientists, designers, lawyers, policy experts, and social scientists with the skills to create public policy that centers on the needs of people and communities. The PIT-UN initiative is led by co-founders New America and the Ford Foundation.

RIT has a long history of developing technology applications that can serve the public good. Its students and faculty have an affinity for engaging in projects to help to improve society and solve global problems. The connection to the PIT-UN Network is a natural fit and one that will reap benefits for RIT. Through course development and degree options, innovative research projects, and experiential learning programs in public interest technology, RIT will produce graduates who understand the role technology can play in a rapidly changing society – and drive the technology toward applications for the public good.

PIT-UN Award Recipients

Each year, PIT-UN and the New America organization provide funding for projects that encourage the development of technology for societal good. For more information about PIT-UN Challenge grant opportunities and winners, visit the New America website.

2021 PIT-UN Awardee: Paul Shipman

Associate professor Paul Shipman, RIT College of Science, was awarded RIT’s first PIT-UN Challenge Grant to build a career/placement pipeline model for a working group of students and faculty who would like to work in public interest technology within tribal communities.

2022 PIT-UN Awardee: Justin Pelletier

Professor of practice in computing security, Justin Pelletier was awarded a PIT-UN Challenge Grant to help people underrepresented in the computing workforce launch new careers in cybersecurity. The nearly $180,000 grant will be used to develop a Cyber-Protection Apprenticeship pilot program that provides paid work experience to people entering the cybersecurity workforce. A diverse group of apprentices will be chosen from graduates of RIT’s Cybersecurity Bootcamp, including people from different backgrounds and those who are deaf and hard of hearing.


Latest News


RIT’s PIT-UN initiative was featured during Imagine RIT 2021. Several projects showcased how the university is achieving “technology for good,” and the PIT-UN exhibits illustrate the philosophy of incorporating technology that is accessible, service-oriented, and relevant. Designs, applications, and products in the exhibits focus on how well-crafted technology can make a difference in people’s lives and in society overall.


Since the PIT-UN relationship was established in 2020, a core team of representatives from each of RIT's colleges and divisions has been built to engage faculty, staff, and students in campus projects. Their role is also to encourage these groups to seek collaborators from among the broader PIT-UN community on research projects, curriculum development, and experiences at the intersection of technology and public interest. The team meets quarterly, led by Doreen Edwards, dean of RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, and Barbara (BJ) Hoerner, executive director of Foundation Relations, University Advancement.

Ellen Granberg
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

We will be networking with other universities interested in using technology for public benefit. This reflects perfectly RIT’s mission, that we leverage the power of technology, the arts, and design for the greater good.


Doreen Edwards
Dean, Kate Gleason College of Engineering
Dean’s Office
Kate Gleason College of Engineering

College Liaisons

Michael Laver
Department of History
College of Liberal Arts
Anthony Vodacek
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
College of Science
Christye Sisson
School Director and Gannett Chair
School of Photographic Arts and Sciences
College of Art and Design
James Hall
Dean of University Studies and Executive Director SOIS
University Studies
Academic Affairs
Justin Pelletier
Director of the GCI Cyber Range and Training Center
ESL Global Cybersecurity Institute
Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
Mihail Barbosu
School of Mathematics and Statistics
College of Science
Rebecca Sumner
Assistant Dean for Research Development
Dean’s Office
College of Engineering Technology
Thomas Trabold
Research Faculty
Department of Sustainability
Golisano Institute for Sustainability
Tony Harkin
Associate Professor
School of Mathematics and Statistics
College of Science
Victor Perotti
Department of MIS, Marketing, and Analytics
Saunders College of Business