What is Nexus Maximus?

Nexus Maximus is Philadelphia University’s signature annual event that brings together a broad range of disciplines to work in teams on big problems and opportunities. It is essentially a multi-day, fast-paced “sprint” project that is designed to provide students with a unique learning opportunity while solving a real-world problem all while HAVING FUN. Students are brought together from across many PhilaU programs and from several international institutions (Aalto University (Helsinki, Finland), KEA (Copenhagen, Denmark), Pace University (New York, NY) and Paris Est.d School (Paris, France).

Challenge: Innovation for Refugees and Displaced Population

One of the great challenges of our time is how to help refugees and displaced populations, and how to prevent the causes in the first place. Due to war, political, racial and religious conflict, and environmental crises of famine and climate change, there is great suffering and great opportunity to do better. Every minute, 24 people around the world are forced to flee their homes. That’s 34,000 people a day who leave everything behind in the hope of finding safety and a better tomorrow.

To meet this challenge, participants will evaluate and seek innovation in the area of refugees and displaced populations. How can innovation address their challenges? How do we create the social systems and products to support a healthy, safe and integrated program for refugees? How do we address the physical, emotional, and social needs of refugees to restore hope and opportunity?

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 NM4? Where Can I Find More Information?

Nexus Maximus IV runs from Sept 8 -11, 2017. Please visit for more information.

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

There are many excellent reasons for participating in NM4. Perhaps the most compelling is that NM4 will serve as a model for collaborative work in your student’s future career. The emphasis of NM4 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 NM4!

  • Dropping a lower exam grade for participating
  • Substituting / Replacing 2/3 assignments with participation in NM4
  • (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 NyarkoA@PhilaU.Edu 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 11 2017) 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 3, running from Sept 9 – 12, 2016 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 NM3 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)