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This Summer, Ulster University students and staff travelled to Philadelphia as part of the global trip Go Philly 2019. The trip included ten Architecture and Built Environment students from three courses (architecture, environmental health, and planning and regeneration) who visited Jefferson University and Drexel University to study Healthy Communities with Ulster Lecturers Dr Saul Golden, Architecture and Spatial Design, and Dr Marie Vaganay, Environmental Health.

During the visit, Jefferson’s Executive Dean for Architecture and Built Environment, Professor Barbara Klinkhammer met our Pro-Vice Chancellor (Global Engagement) Professor Ian Montgomery and Director of Global Engagement Catriona McCarthy, inviting Ulster students to take part in Jefferson’s flagship international event Nexus Maximus from 11 – 14 October. Dr Golden previously led a Global Mobility funded outward visit to Jefferson’s College of Architecture and Built Environment in September 2018 with eight BA Hons Interior Design students to take part in Nexus Maximus 2018.

Nexus Maximum is Jefferson’s signature annual event that invites students from around the world and from a variety of disciplines, to visit Philadelphia to work collaboratively over a four-day period of intense workshops to address global urban challenges. It is an opportunity to collaborate with and learn from colleagues - faculty, students, and industry partners - to develop new innovations for healthy communities. The 2019 theme called for proposals promoting greater Civility in contemporary society.

Taking up the challenge were two Ulster students from the GoPhilly Healthy Communities team, Jonah Carty and Lauren Coulter -- now final years in the School of Architecture and Built Environment’s MSc Planning, Regeneration and Development course. They worked with Dr Golden to recruit four more final year students to participate from their course (Kyle McAdam, Hannah McVeigh, Ciara Mone, and Adam Trafford).

Together, all six students travelled with Dr Golden to Jefferson and participated in different international mixed teams of planners, engineers, architects and interior designers with computer science and business majors from USA, Chile and Germany. They spent four days developing innovative ideas around the Civility theme, which they presented to visiting judges from academia and industry in a science fair-style finale. Ulster University students won two awards with their teams during the event – Best Collaboration and Peer Favourite.

This successful outward visit represents two years of growing collaborative efforts between Ulster and Jefferson’s Architecture and Built Environment Schools, stemming from contacts within the Northern Ireland Office and supported jointly by funding from Global Mobility, the Belfast School of Architecture and Built Environment, and the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment.

Dr Golden said this was a truly cross-disciplinary effort with the School of Architecture and Built Environment; thanking Planning and Regeneration colleagues, Dr Gavan Rafferty, Dr Linda McElduff, and Dr Heather Ritchie for encouraging and supporting their students to take part in this exciting international experience. He also acknowledged the support received to develop this particular international relationship with Jefferson from Mehvish Ashfaq, Assistant Director and Head of Global Opportunities and Experience; Professor Paul Hanna, Associate Dean (Global Engagement, CEBE); and Professor Neil Hewitt, Head of School, Architecture and Built Environment.

Professor Liam Maguire, Executive Dean for faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for our students and lecturer, Dr Saul Golden who acted as an academic advisor and international jury member for the competition. The Nexus Maximum event allowed us to collaborate with students and researchers from across the world as well as strengthen our ties with a pioneering institution such as Jefferson University.”