The Indian Institute of Technology held an online graduation ceremony through virtual reality application.
One of the most awaited moments for students anywhere in the world is, of course, the moment of getting their diplomas while wearing their baccalaureate gowns during commencement exercises. It is also an opportunity for them to mingle with classmates and faculty members for, probably, the last time. But for many of the Class of 2020 who are graduating in this era may know that the usual graduation rites are not possible—thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But a premier Indian university has thought of a way to give graduating students an approximate feeling of the traditional receiving of degree certificates. The institution used virtual reality.
Over 2,000 students received their degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay on August 23, but without really being there. Instead, their “personally-created” avatars, through virtual reality, accepted the diplomas from the personalized avatar of the IIT director Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri.
Wonderful mix of tradition and technology! An interesting convocation at @iitbombay. Great effort.
Congrats to the Class of 2020!
I fondly recall my visit to this brilliant institution for the convocation in August 2018. https://t.co/cq8eJt9KeJ
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 25, 2020
With this approach, students would not be risking their health just to hold a ceremony. India is among the countries with the most number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Just recently, they even surpassed the 3 million mark.
A Premier Institution with an Advanced Solution
It only makes sense for one of the country’s leading technical institutions, which also produced chief exec of tech giant Google Sundar Pichai, to take advantage of technology to provide their parting alumni still a unique experience.
According to a statement from IIT, the institute does not want to “deprive [students] of the sense of achievement and pride of passing out of India’s premier engineering institute.” The VR experience was their solution to pursue the rites without endangering the health safety of graduates.
Apart from getting their diplomas through their avatars, the technology also allowed students to virtually tour the campus.
The chief guest for the digital ceremony was 2016 co-recipient of Nobel Prize in Physics and a Princeton professor, Duncan Haldane. Meanwhile, the Guest of Honor was co-founder and chief exec of multinational investment firm Blackstone, Stephen Schwarzman.
The school also gave Prof. Duncan a personalized avatar to hand out medals to the avatars of exceptional students with awards.
The unusual event also went on broadcast on local TV channels. It was also even streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live, per the institution’s press release.