By Zach Samalonis
This year’s Nexus Maximus Challenge, Jefferson students partnered with Johnson & Johnson to create relief responses to refugees and displaced populations. Concluding on Monday, the weekend long multi-disciplinary challenge asked Jefferson Industrial Design students to create unique and innovative solutions, while collaborating with students from different majors and other universities (such as Aalto University in Finland and DUOC in Chile).
Industrial design student, Michael Soliday, and his teammates developed infrastructure around the concept of using crickets as a means to end displacement by famine. The insect, he explained, can be a cheap, simple and nutritious self-replenishing source of food.
Another industrial design student, Kelly Sullivan, said “It’s so interesting to see how we connect across majors.” Her team worked on an all-inclusive gardening and composting starter kit. This kit would aide sustainability and waste management, economic stability, food security, community building and job creation.
This year’s “most innovative solution” went to the team who developed Amicus, a series of icons (for example, water, first aid and bathrooms) that can be printed on T-shirts, blankets and other textiles to provide warmth and comfort for refugees. These icons would give refugees a means of communication with aid workers and volunteers.
Competitions, like Nexus, push Jefferson Industrial Design students to think like designers from day one, especially freshmen who are being introduced to the field. At the closing ceremony on Monday, Jefferson’s Vice President of Innovation D.R. Widder remarked, “It’s amazing what these students have come up with….All these teams just met each other on Friday and are able to work together to create amazing concepts.”