This Sunday, students graduating from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, will experience a convocation ceremony they had not anticipated. While they will miss out on walking up to the stage to receive their degrees or tossing ceremonial hats in the air, each of the 2,714 graduating students will see their “avatars” receive degrees from the institute director, Dr Subhasis Chaudhuri, in a virtual ceremony.
In a first-of-its-kind move among higher education institutes in the country, IIT Bombay will conduct its 58th convocation ceremony virtually and give away degrees to students’ virtual images, created using their photographic details, in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The programme will be broadcast on DD Sahyadri, YouTube and Facebook from 1.30 pm on August 23.
During the virtual ceremony, medals winners will receive their awards from the avatar of chief guest Nobel laureate professor Duncan Haldane of the Princeton University. A synchronised pledge will also be taken by its students from all across the country at the end of the ceremony.
“This has been a huge operation involving planning, technology development and implementation. No other institute has done it. Getting into and through IIT is a memorable event, and we wanted to give students something to remember,” said Dr Chaudhari.
In a normal year, Professor P Sunthar of the institute said, students would have arrived on the campus a day prior to the convocation with their parents, and after the convocation, department events would be held and thereafter students would take their family on a campus tour. “This time, students and their families can take a virtual tour of the campus from 6 pm Saturday. After the convocation ceremony on Sunday, departmental online events will be held from 4 pm to 6 pm, after which the virtual tour of the campus will be enabled again,” prof Sunthar said.
“We have virtually created typical meeting points, departments, hostels, clubs and other places, and students will be able to join using the URL that will be shared with them.”
Chief guest prof Haldane and founder and CEO of Blackstone Group Stephen Schwarzman, the guest of honour, will address students online. Electronic copies of the degree certificate will be made available immediately after the event, while the physical copies will be couriered to students later.
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