What is Nexus Maximus?

Nexus Maximus is a Jefferson signature annual event that brings together a broad range of disciplines to work in teams on big problems and opportunities. It is an excellent example of Nexus Learning, our unique and award-winning approach to education – learning that is active, collaborative, engaged in the real world and infused with the liberal arts.

This fast-paced “sprint” project (essentially a hackathon) is designed to provide students and participants a unique learning opportunity solving a challenging real-world problem, all while having fun. We bring together students from across Jefferson’s programs, as well as students from other institutions such as Aalto University in Finland, KEA in Copenhagen, Pace University in New York, and the Paris-Est d. School in France. The past four years of Nexus Maximus, held each September, have engaged a total of over 1,000 students in total working together in teams of 4-6 to learn innovation processes and develop new concepts to address a global problem – Aging in Place, Adolescent Health, Personal Health Data, and Refugee Challenges.

Challenge: Improving Lives through Healthy Communities.

This year we are building on Jefferson’s mission: “We Improve Lives,” and commitment to community. The challenge is “Improving Lives through Healthy Communities”, focused on Philadelphia communities’ local challenges. Participating students in Nexus Maximus will be assigned to teams comprised of 4-6 students from different disciplines. Each team will be assigned a community in Philadelphia in a specific zip code, and will be challenged with developing innovation to improve the health of that local community. Approaches may include:

· Improving health care access

· Healthy community design

· New policies or business models to deliver sustainable value to the community.

· Community diversity

   and beyond…

Teams will evaluate and seek innovation that supports the health and well-being of specific local community populations. The team’s project work will be supplemented with workshops on innovation, entrepreneurship, and content relevant to the theme, delivered by experts throughout the weekend.

Students will be broken into teams which blend both undergraduate and graduate students in diverse programs and will begin to evaluate and seek innovation in this area. Participants will engage in workshops on innovation, entrepreneurship and other areas relevant to this theme by facilitators. Final results of the Sprint Project will be presented in a poster session on the final day of Nexus Maximus.

When is NM5? Where Can I Find More Information?

Nexus Maximus V runs from Sept 21 -24, 2018. Please visit for more information.

What Should I Tell The Students? Is there any benefit?

There are many excellent reasons for participating in NM5. Perhaps the most compelling is that NM5 will serve as a model for collaborative work in your student’s future career. The emphasis of NM5 will be on collaboration, innovation and “real world projects,” which are all factors intimately involved in a plethora of careers in [insert college/ industry here]. By participating in this event, you will apply your [major/industry] expertise to a real-world problem area, working in a group of individuals with backgrounds that are likely different than your own. This type of approach is very common in industry and therefore this experience will provide keen insight into how you will eventually work in the “real world.” Therefore, this experience will begin to prepare you for future success in the rapidly evolving, collaborative and innovative environment that characterizes professional [major/industry].

What Incentives Can I Offer Students?

There are many incentives you can offer students to participate in NM5!

  • Dropping a lower exam grade for participating
  • Substituting / Replacing 2/3 assignments with participation in NM5
  • (Nexus Minumus)Assigning an alternative assignment that also requires collaboration over the course of the week/semester to yield similar result (documenting process, reflection of work done and every meeting, final presentation), ready to present on final day of Nexus Maximus, or in class.
  • Email Abena at if you have other suggestions or ideas on ways to bring your classes into Nexus Maximus

An example from Last Year

I, Dr Jeffery Ashley, will allow you to drop your lowest of three exam scores. The remaining two exam scores will then represent 45% of final grade (Grading distribution on the syllabus). This is a huge incentive to participate. For example, say you get a 87%, 54%, and 90% on Exams 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Instead of average the three (77%), I would drop Exam 2 and average the remaining (88.5%). I’m doing this because I feel your inclusive in this event would greatly benefit you and your overall learning experience here at PhilaU, especially considering this year’s topic of personal health.

How Do I know or Determine My Students Participated?

Students are required to submit a reflection blog post at the end of each day, and at the end of the sprint weekend, they present their final board in a tradeshow style. To verify participation you can have students…

  1. You can have students submit a “mini-copy” of their group’s final poster (presented on Monday, Sept 24 2018) in which they are a co-author. This could be a single page in the form of a pdf or easily done using MS PowerPoint. You may require students to submit this along with live links to their daily blog post which usually includes images of themselves and their projects.
  2. Failure to email “digital copy” of group’s final poster could result in no incentives being awarded / a zero on alternative assignment after committing to this / a zero on substitute assignment (could include deadline)

You could also have students sign and date the signature page (right) prior to NM weekend, to commit to participating in Nexus Maximus.


I agree to attend Nexus Maximus 5, running from Sept 21 – 24, 2018 and will participate in all required workshops, work sessions and final presentation of project results. By attending this event and submitting the required “mini-copy” of the final presentation poster by the required due date, I will receive the indicated incentives. By not attending NM5 and/or not submitting the “mini-copy” of the final presentation I will forfeit any and all incentives.

Signed: ________________________
Print name: _____________________
Date: _________________________

Credit: Matthew Milkevitch (2016)