Amid a school year marked by modernizing education technology to enable distance and hybrid learning, Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management had a technology-driven graduation ceremony featuring commencement speeches delivered via hologram.

Every year, the school hosts multiple graduation ceremonies. This year’s ceremonies featured a mix of outdoor in-person events alongside remote ceremonies. To bridge the gap between students on-campus and remote, the school created an interactive 10-foot tall Zoom video wall to allow remote graduates, family, and friends to join virtually with live audio and video.

The school also hosted one very high-tech convocation ceremony that had commencement speakers and student speakers appear as holograms. In addition to the holograms, graduates received their diplomas by rolling across the stage as telepresence avatar robots from the dean who was officiating the ceremony in person.

The in-person aspects of the ceremony took place from the campus’ chroma key studio, with only the dean and telepresence robots present. This filming allowed producers to create a ceremony that appeared to take place in a 3-D digital rendering of the school’s new global headquarters. The new building, which the school said will feature the “latest telepresence technology,” is still under construction and slated to open this fall.

“We teach our students how to maximize the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by embracing global ingenuity and innovation, so leveraging transformative technologies like mobile telepresence robots for an unprecedented commencement was a fitting final lesson for the Class of 2020,” Sanjeev Khagram, Thunderbird School’s dean, said in a press release.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs