May 2001

From University of Pennsylvania

'Hi, Mom' meets high-tech at graduation ceremony for Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science

PHILADELPHIA – Students graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science next week will have a much more advanced means of communicating their sentiments than the traditional masking tape atop mortarboards: As each one passes onto the stage to receive a diploma, the scan of a personalized bar code will bring onto a giant overhead screen a web site displaying the student’s name, hometown and personal comments.

The technology, developed by SEAS undergraduate David Badler, is distantly related to that found in grocery store checkout aisles – but sufficiently novel that the university has applied for a patent.

The 25-foot-by-65-foot screen on which students’ comments will be projected is expected to allow for somewhat more expansive remarks than the average mortarboard. Sentiments that have already been submitted by graduating seniors include "Querida familia: Gracias por todo," "Thanks Mum, for always pushing me!" and, in a reference to the building where many SEAS classes are held, "I am no longer a Towne potato. Thanks!"

Roughly 450 to 500 students will receive undergraduate and masters degrees at the ceremony, which will take place Monday, May 21, at 3 p.m. at Penn’s Franklin Field. The students and their professors, family and friends will hear remarks from Oliver C. Boileau Jr., an alumnus and former president and chief operating officer of the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

NOTE: Media coverage of this event is welcomed. Reporters and photographers planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Steve Bradt at 215-573-6604. We expect to have high-resolution digital images available for those who are interested but unable to send a photographer.











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