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Indian students collect diplomas as avatars in VR graduation ceremony

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As the coronavirus pandemic put the kibosh on in-person graduation ceremonies, the faculty and graduating students at one of the top technical universities in India still found a way to earn (and showcase) their technical stripes.

On Sunday, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) held a “virtual reality” convocation ceremony for over 2,000 graduates. This wasn’t your normal virtual occasion: The university created avatars for each student, faculty member, and speaker.

Student avatars walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, and later even got to schmooze with classmates and colleagues as they virtually explored campus.

In a statement, the university said it didn’t want to deprive students of the “pride” of graduating because of the pandemic, so it created the virtual effort.

“Providing a virtual reality experience to all our graduates needed not only highly innovative steps but also a tremendous effort by our professors and staff,” Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, the director of IIT Bombay, said. “They did it for the students. Hopefully this will enthuse our graduates as well as other engineers in the country to think big and think innovatively.”

Twitter highlighted the occasion in a Twitter moment, and IIT Bombay broadcasted the whole thing on Indian television channels, Facebook Live, and YouTube.

Students, faculty, and family members happily shared clips and gifs from the ceremony on Twitter.

The personalized graduating avatars are strangely endearing. They may look like Sims characters, but the customized outfits, proud walks across the stage, and final handshakes convey a sense of genuine celebration. Even in 2020, life finds a way!





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