By: Will Levy
Many Beaver students participate in NuVu offered in Cambridge, MA, which is a one-trimester program focused on project-based learning. The curriculum teaches innovation, creative problem solving, critical thinking, technical skills, and accountability while allowing students to learn product development and prototyping. However, there are mixed reviews about the NuVu experience circulating around the Beaver campus. This article is part of a series that has the purpose of educating students about the NuVu program. Readers will hear from a variety of perspectives, that are from both NuVu alumni, as well as current participants.
Alex Cracraft, a Junior and NuVu winter 2018-2019 alumnus, was asked to describe his experience participating in the program, as well as if he would recommend it to others. Cracraft explained, NuVu was a “learning experience” that “students will get out what they put in over the course of the term.” He talked about some of the projects from the time he participated, which included building electric vehicles, as well as making machines that turned sound into visual representations.
Cracraft recommended NuVu to others, but stated that “the program needs to be the right fit for the student.” NuVu might not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy innovation and creative problem solving, the program is the perfect fit. When asked what he got out of the program, Cracraft stated, “my perspective changed around problem-solving and collaboration.” Cracraft also stated that he learned many technical skills that can be applied to other projects, such as how to use the software Fusion 360, as well as how to laser cut. These skills can be applied at Beaver to create projects for classes or independent studies. For students such as Alex, the program was a great fit and a fantastic learning experience.
Life at NuVu is very different than that on the Beaver campus. For starters, students must manage their own time and due dates for project components. Projects are also chosen by students, so participants are able to build and study what interests them.
Cracraft said, “the freedom you have while at NuVu mimics the college experience.” Students are allowed to leave the building during the one-hour lunch break to get food and explore the surrounding Central Square neighborhood of Cambridge, MA. Students are expected to return to work promptly after the one-hour lunch break and work efficiently throughout the day. When asked what advice he would give new NuVu students, Cracraft answered, “bring a lunch.” Cracraft attested to the fact that students can spend large amounts of money at the surrounding restaurants, and instead could pack a cheaper and healthier option on some days. NuVu allows Beaver students to explore the freedoms they will receive while in college as well as the workforce while staying in a structured and supportive environment.
After going to NuVu myself, I agree that the program is definitely worth the time. The advice I would give to prospective students is not to listen to the negative reviews and rumors that speculate around Beaver. Although I would change a few things about the program, I feel as though it enhanced my critical thinking as well as product development skills, and now allows me to evaluate curriculum at Beaver through a new lens. My favorite project was designing a video game as well as a controller for a girl with special needs, which could not only cater to her physical adaptations but also helped her to develop new and advanced cognitive skills. This project was enjoyable to make, and the result had an immediate positive impact on a person’s life. At the end of the term, I chose to strengthen the game and controller by refining the prototype into a final product which had the same functionality, but had an enhanced physical appearance, while being more durable. The project was then selected to be showcased at the end of term presentation and eventually was delivered to the girl for who it was intended. In the coming months, look for more articles about the NuVu experience, in order to learn more about the great program that you could take advantage of while at Beaver!