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Telepresence

ASU’s Thunderbird Grads to Cross Stage as Robot Avatars

Thunderbird Dean and Director General Sanjeev Khagram will congratulate graduates in telepresence robot form.

Thunderbird Dean and Director General Sanjeev Khagram will congratulate graduates in telepresence robot form.

Thunderbird School of Global Management, a school within Arizona State University, is planning for a robot-filled graduation. The institution will be using telepresence robots equipped with a tablet computer to provide video and audio of the graduating seniors. Each graduate will use arrow keys on their computers at home to roll up virtually to Thunderbird's dean and director general, Sanjeev Khagram, and accept his congratulations.

The school has 143 students receiving master's degrees during the virtual event. And about 140 have chosen to participate by providing their photos or live videos on the robots' screens. They'll also have the opportunity to participate in any live commencement ceremony of their choosing in the future.

The virtual event will take place on May 11, enabling families and friends to watch live or in recorded form. The event will be streamed on Thunderbird's YouTube channel.

"We are awed by the flexibility and resilience this year's graduates have shown as our university community adapted to the realities of COVID-19," school officials said in a statement. "The virtual commencement is our way of honoring them and their accomplishments, which are all the more impressive in this challenging time."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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