Benedetta Piantella

  • Industry Associate Professor


Benedetta Piantella profile image

Benedetta is a designer turned educator and humanitarian technologist. She was involved in international development projects for the past twenty years, ever since her experience of surviving the Tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004 and organizing relief efforts from the ground. She has been teaching for almost two decades in different disciplines and to different age groups, from STEM and Robotics courses to K-12 students to Ideation & Prototyping, HCI, Physical Computing and Global Engineering classes to undergraduate and graduate students.

She founded two R&D companies focused on producing sustainable solutions to global problems and through partnerships with Governments, large international organizations such as the UN and UNICEF, research institutions such as The Earth Institute at Columbia University and multiple NGOs, she has designed, prototyped and deployed projects in many countries such as the Netherlands, United States, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. 

Benedetta was recently Technologist in Residence at Cornell Tech and worked in the Connected Experiences Lab and Social Technologies Lab working on HCI research about physical resource sharing, remote visual awareness and technology tools for underserved communities. Previously she covered the position of Technology Architect for the Earth Institute and the Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Lab at Columbia University, working on projects focused on shared solar micro-grids and 24/7 water kiosks for the Millennium Villages Project. 

Her design research practice focuses on applying participatory design methods, systems thinking and user-centered design towards the design and implementation of resilient networks, IoT devices, real-time monitoring systems and distributed infrastructure, to insure equitable access to life-sustaining resources. Benedetta is an Open Source advocate and is currently teaching and conducting research at NYU Tandon in the Integrated Design & Media Program (IDM).

Research Interests: Social Impact ICTD, Participatory Design, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Sustainability, Resilience, Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR), Educational Technologies & STEAM Education

NYU, Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York, NY

MPS,  2008


Tufts University & School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA 

BFA, 2004

  • Cornell Tech, Cx Lab & Social Technologies Lab, Technologist in Residence
  • Columbia University, The Earth Institute & Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Lab, Technology Architect
  • UNICEF, Office of Innovation & Cold Chain and Logistics, Consultant 

NYS Climate & Resilience Education Taskforce (NYCRE)

NYU Environmental Racial Justice Network (ERJN) 

NYU Sustainable Engineering Initiative (SEI)

NYU Sustainability Advisory Group

NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology (NYU Alliance), Associate

NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), Affiliated Faculty 

NYU Disasters Scholars 


NYU *This Is Not A Drill* Fellowship 

Award: $6K

Project: Resist, Reclaim, Restore 


Mozilla Creative Media Award 

Award: $30K

Project: Solar Protocol 


American Made Solar Challenge

First Phase Award: $50K, Second Phase Award: $100K + $75K 

Project: Solar SEED 


NYU Green Grant

Award: $20K

Project: Solar-Powered Media 



Award: Contract 

Project: Resilient Solar Gateways for Red Hook Wifi  



Research Centers, Labs, and Groups