Everything about the country's first board meeting at IIT Bombay
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As an initial event, IIT Bombay organized the virtual reality (VR) convocation ceremony amid the COVID-19 outbreak for students graduating this year. The idea arose from informal discussions between administration and faculty who had some ideas to make the event special for the students. It was inspired by the recently completed project on the Ajanta Caves virtual museum by Sumant Rao who is professor at the institute’s IDC School of Design. Rao was also a member of the convening organizing committee.

The virtual campus was created using the Gather web platform and students were able to visit places on their computers such as video games and interact with their peers online. However, a lot of technical work went into organizing the event.

“To create digital avatars for more than 1,300 students, we collected photos of students. The entire two-hour event is then sequenced and scripted, the faculty members are digitally edited and overlaid to achieve a simulated effect of simultaneous presence. It also creates virtual maps of hostels and departments, as well as various other tasks, ”says P. Sunthar, professor of chemical engineering, was one of the members of the organizing committee.

Deepank Verma did her PhD this year at the IIT-B Center for Urban Research and Technology and participated in the Lucknow virtual gathering. “We left campus in March because of the pandemic and it would have been risky to travel to the draft. However, attending the board meeting was an exciting experience. We can keep our personalized digital versions as memorabilia, ”says Verma.

All students were asked to submit their photos on the front and side, full length profile photo, and height measurements to create the avatars.

The MTech graduate Ram Babu from Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh attended the VR meeting from his hometown and appreciates it as a unique experience. “It felt like we were back on campus. We visited our hostels and departments virtually through gathers where we could make video calls and chat with friends and professors and take part in fun activities organized for us, ”Babu adds.

The convocation has become an irreplaceable memory, on the other hand it emphasizes the translatability and absorbability of such technologies for the benefit of society and industry.

IIT Bombay Director Subhasis Chaudhuri says it is important to note that VR does not necessarily only have applications during the current pandemic crisis, but many applications that the industry needs to consider. “Our job as an academic institution is to demonstrate the usefulness of any technology. If an industry wanted to use it as a service for all of these occasions, it would be a productive development, ”adds Chaudhuri.

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