So, two girls meet in Shanghai…?

Posted on by BansheeBandits

Categories: blog and student posts

Who are we? How did we come together?


Shelby and Lillian with Public Lab's Director of Community Development, Liz Barry (Photo via Shelby Firebaugh)

Shelby is a rising senior at New York University Tandon School of Engineering working towards a B.S. in Integrated Digital Media. Lillian–originally from Surprise, Arizona–is pursuing a B.S. in Integrated Media Arts with minors in Public Policy and Nonprofit Management at New York University Shanghai. Shelby and Lillian met in the media lab at NYU Shanghai when Shelby was studying away with NYU at the Shanghai campus. They bonded initially when they were partnered together in “Talking Fabrics,” a creative seminar that covered the application of soft circuits through the physical construction of products. They stitched together a vest that responded to physical touch using sensors in the Arduino, and have been bonded ever since.


Why did we choose Public Lab?

Public Lab promotes a hands-on, do-it-yourself ethos–one that supports the concept of exploration, in which members of specific communities across the globe can participate in the collection of environmental data, through DIY methods explained via the Public Lab website. The monumental idea promoted by Public Lab is that technical development and real-life applications can be derived through data experiments conducted by everyday people.

If government chooses to turn away from solving environmental issues, then it becomes even more important to face these issues in a grassroots fashion. There is power in numbers, and we believe that an organization like Public Lab will be an essential tool in educating and empowering the public, as well as supporting those groups who need help.

Both Lillian and Shelby have an interest in open-source projects, and believe that promoting community participation is not only an efficient way to gather data, but also encourages individuals to become involved regardless of formal experience. We have both spent an extended amount of time in Shanghai, and have witnessed first-hand the damage that industrialization can cause to our environment.

Meet the team

Katie Adee, Coach


Photo via OpenTrons

Every week Katie commutes from the North Fork of Long Island into New York City to both teach at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and develop projects at OpenTrons, where she serves as the company’s lead UX/UI designer. Her classroom banter is as hilarious as it is understandable, aiding in our perspective of how dynamic people in technology can be. Katie loves solving problems, and exploring how data representations, games, and emerging web technologies can spark interest in students, children and sceptics. Her interests include bikes, food, the Gowanus Canal, and making beautiful/fun things with math and code.

Marcela Godoy, Coach


Photo via Marcela Godoy

Marcela is a designer and maker. She has worked on interactive art installations, wearables, web design and physical computing projects. She brings interaction design to the physical world by designing 3D models, mockups and renders. She holds a Master’s diploma in Interactive Telecommunications from the New York University and a Bachelor degree in Architecture. Currently she works as part of the team of YesYesNo, a multidisciplinary company that specializes in interactive art installations and commercial interactive projects. In addition, she is working as an design professor through the Interactive Media Arts program at New York University Shanghai.

Jeffrey Warren, Mentor


Jeffrey is a co-founder and the Research Director for Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, Jeffrey Warren designs mapping and civic science tools and professionally flies balloons and kites. Notable software he has created include the vector-mapping framework Cartagen and orthorectification tool MapKnitter, as well as open spectral database and toolkit Spectral Workbench.

Nada Ashraf, Supervisor


Nada Ashraf is a past participant in Rails Girls Summer of Code, and has been an integral part of the support system available to Shelby and Lillian throughout this process. Based in Egypt, she is interested in computer science and inclusive programs in the realm of technological information!

What’s up next?

For the past couple of weeks, Shelby and Lillian have been becoming accustomed to Github through opensource contributions involving Public Lab’s tagging interface, specifically within the realm of powertags. In essence, powertags are an advanced feature which can add extra functions and layout options to Wiki pages or Research Notes on

Moving forward, Shelby and Lillian would like to work on developing the UX/UI design of the powertag system, making article tagging more streamlined and understandable for a first-time user. As novices to coding and Public Lab’s interface, team BansheeBandits believes there might be a more welcoming vocabulary regarding the functionality of powertags. In the next couple of weeks we intend on conducting user testing to identify points where the syntax involving powertags might be confusing for the everyday user.