Athena Susan Sajan, when her name was called to come upon the stage to grab her graduation certificate at Indian Institute of Technology (IIM) – Bombay on August 23, 2020, it was a unique experience in the history of the education system.

She was at her hometown, which is 1,400 kilometres away when she got her certificate through virtual mode.

She was peering into a computer screen from her home close to Olassa in Kerela’s Kottayam area. She saw herself with growing adoration a “virtual Athena” stepping eagerly on to the stage and getting her MTech certificate from the advanced digital avatar of Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, the director of the IIT – Bombay.

At last, her years of difficult and earnest work had paid off. Presently, she is an MTech professional in chemical engineering from one of the renowned educational establishments in India.

Athena was pleased and full with gratitude as her avatar on-screen too reflects the sentiment. Gripping the certificate, Athena and Prof. Subhasis Chaudhari posed for the invisible cameraman and smiled.

In the panic and fallout of COVID – 19 pandemic, the undergraduate aspirants are currently stranded across the nation. But Indian Institute of Technology did the near-impossible by organising a virtual conference, the first of its kind.

The institute released a statement in which they explained how they wanted to provide a platform for their undergraduate aspirants in which they can get the same experience as they get the in-person occasion.

Despite the limitations posed by the coronavirus, IIT – Bombay somehow made it possible for the aspirants to attend such events.

Athena, Kerala girl, who had been looking forward to participating in such event was very surprised when the officials announced the event schedule in July. She was startled while having a look at details that had gone into the creation of this virtual exhibition.

Athena told the Onmanorama about how it exceeded her expectations. She added that the foundation did not have any desires to deny them for the delight. The aspirants will often associate with events this way.

IIT – Bombay must be praised for this initiative as it is quite useful in the COVID – 19 pandemics. There is no uncertainty that a ton of effort has been put into this.

A team of 20 – members worked for more than two months to bring alive this ambitious assignment, from making the digital avatars to the procession – everything down to the best of details.

The avatar’s first walk to the stage then gives a beaming smile after getting the degree endorsement and finally pose for the invisible cameraman.

The Process:  All about the virtual convocation.

Here are the steps to be followed to participate in the graduation ceremony.



1. The aspirants and the faculty were asked to send in photographs of themselves for the avatars which were then digitally planned into virtual variants.
2. Installation of application: they were then provoked to install a software application on their gadgets wherein the avatar would be downloaded in advanced of the convocation.
3. The occasion was then broadcast live on DD India and the organisation’s social accounts.

Athena is an interview told about IIT – Bombay and how this was expected from the institute. She further told that when the lockdown across the country was declared, the aspirants realised that the administration would bring the best strategies to curb the aftermaths of the pandemic. 

She discussed the long history of breaking records and shows and the virtual conference that were reliable to make history. She added that this take-off from old thoughts and ideas is reflected in the aspirants as well.

Even though it was the primary virtual meeting occasion, this is not the first virtual project the organisation has tinkered with. Before the lockdown, the officials delivered the whole format of individuals hostel on their virtual presence stage called Gather.

Each aspirant on signing in to the platform (Gather) got the opportunity to move a Mario – like figure around the hostel. When it came close to another Mario-figure, a “Skype-like” video box got opened wherein the aspirant could connect.

Athena told us that she met a lot of friends this way and even the individuals whom she has not cooperated much. At the time of convocation, even the faculty members were added to the platform. 

According to Stephen Schwarzman, executive, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone and the honourable guest at the virtual occasion while addressing at IIT – Bombay told that the youth of this country is ambitious and tech-savvy which is poised to stake its title as one of the world’s pre-eminent innovation hubs.

Athena, the student of IIT- Bombay think of this as well. She told that these days of lockdown and isolation, have made the youth upskill themselves and adventure into new possibilities.

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