Graduates get personal

Graduates get personal

With the number of graduates in the thousands at many universities, parents resort to telephoto lenses and binoculars just to catch a glimpse of their son or daughter walking down the aisle in cap and gown.

But thanks to the innovative minds of two University of Pennsylvania engineering students, graduates will no longer have to use a roll of masking tape to slap “Hi Mom!” on their mortarboards. David Badler, Tyler Mullins, and Matt Uffalussy came up with a software program called MarchingOrder, piloted in 2001, which allows students to display personal information on a 25– by-65-foot screen when they reach for their diplomas.

Prior to graduation day, students can post such tidbits as hometown and degree type on the MarchingOrder Web site, along with personal photographs. Student are given a bar-coded card to be scanned when they get on stage, and the moment the student receives his or her diploma, the information he or she provided on the MarchingOrder Web site pops up on a screen facing the audience. Last spring, MarchingOrder was used at both Penn and the University of New Mexico’s graduation ceremonies. Badler credits his father, an engineering professor at Penn, with inspiring the idea. “This lets students individualize their commencement,” says Badler. “(My father) thought that graduates deserve that kind of recognition on such a big day.”

Copyright American Society for Engineering Education Sep 2002

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