Dubai university plans drive-in graduation ceremony using drones

The ceremony will allow hundreds to participate with limited social interaction

The American University in the Emirates plans to use drones to deliver certificates to graduating students during a drive-in ceremony scheduled for July 15. Christopher Pike / The National
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A Dubai university will confer degrees by drone at a midsummer drive-in convocation ceremony next month.

The outbreak of Covid-19 led to the cancellation of the American University in the Emirates' annual traditional ceremony so organisers came up with creative way to confer degrees upon the 2020 graduating class as way to allow family to attend the event while observing social distancing guidelines.

An illustration of the planned graduation ceremony that will use drones to deliver certificates to graduates of the American University in the Emirates. Courtesy: American University in the Emirates

“We started thinking, how we can deliver this graduation ceremony to make all the students happy and their parents happy and then we came with this idea,” said Muthanna Abdul Razzaq, the university’s president. “The idea is simple and it’s creative and we think it’s the first for the region and maybe the world.”

University staff is in discussion with Guinness World Records officials on whether it would be eligible for a world record.

Mr Abdul Razzaq said the ceremony will take place on July 15, to honour the birthday of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

On the big day, students will drive to pre-assigned parking spaces at the university’s car park, tune into a local radio channel and wait for their name to come across the airwaves so they can step out of the vehicle and receive their degree. A fleet of 20 drones will deliver certificates to each graduate.

Once degrees are awarded, there will be a light show with 120 drones to honour the university's 470 graduates.

“We really thought a lot about how we can make our students happy, our faculty happy in such a crisis," said Mr Abdul Razzaq.

American University in the Emirates is a private university in Dubai International Academic City that was established in 2006.