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Ryerson hires augmented reality company to create virtual graduation

by Gavin Mercier

The class of 2020 celebrated graduation from their homes

Ryerson University brought a virtual graduation to students this week after signing a contract with NexTech AR Solutions earlier in the month. The company designed an augmented reality version of the Student Learning Centre (SLC) where the ceremony took place.

Dawsyn Borland, who graduated with a master’s in digital media from the Faculty of Communications and Design (FCAD), was on the NexTech AR team that created the augmented reality experience.

“I am a proud Ryerson alumna and it’s been an honour to work with Ryerson on so many cutting-edge augmented reality projects,” she said, referring to virtual labs that NexTech created for Ryerson earlier this year.

“Commencement is a special moment for graduates and their friends and family, so it was rewarding to know that NexTech AR was able to play a small part in that this year.”

In the augmented reality space, students were able to browse faculties to learn about gold medallists, highlights of the year, place messages on virtual walls and take virtual graduation photos.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Ryerson to create an exciting virtual graduation ceremony where multiple AR technologies can come together and create something totally new and immersive, maybe better than the real thing,” said Evan Grappelberg, CEO of NexTech, in a press release.

NexTech also used its human hologram technology for the event to allow Ryerson’s deans to deliver virtual commencement addresses. Students could view messages from each faculty and the dean in their own home using NexTech’s augmented reality experience.

Students were encouraged to use the hashtag #RUGrad2020 on social media to promote their achievements.

“Who knew I would be watching my graduation from my bed,” Samia Kamaluddin, a business management graduate, said in a tweet. “Still, I’m thankful I am able to wrap up my time at Ryerson by hearing the encouraging messages of alumni, staff and community members! #RUGrad2020

The event began with president Mohamed Lachemi congratulating the graduates and acknowledging the land, before Ryerson’s elder and senior adviser for Indigenous issues and reconciliation, Joanne Dallaire, led a traditional prayer for the graduates.

The ceremony also featured many Ryerson alumni delivering virtual speeches to the graduates. Sangita Patel, who graduated from electrical engineering in 2002 and is now a reporter with Entertainment Tonight Canada, spoke to the graduates. She was joined by Andrew Cividino, who graduated from image arts in 2006 and is now an Emmy-award winning director and screenwriter.

Both Patel and Cividino, along with many other alumni, acknowledged the graduates’ accomplishments during these difficult times.

“No doubt, this is not quite the celebration you spent years working toward, but this virtual program does not take away from your achievements and your success,” said chancellor Janice Fukakusa.        

“In fact, given the remarkable circumstances, your achievements are especially noteworthy. Class of 2020, you have our community’s respect and admiration.”

This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

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