Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Awesome PhD defense in U of Magdeburg

26 June was Mathias' PhD defense. And I can tell you this was the most awesome defense I've ever attended.

The first round was just like any other defense would look like: candidate gave a presentation, followed by comments from the defense committee. Then the Q&A and closed door discussion.

But the best part, which my colleagues told me as the unique tradition here in U of Magdeburg, began shortly after that.

To begin with, the now PhD was presented with a number of items symbolizing his responsibility. This included a gown, a heavy medal on a necklace made of heavy chains, and a custom-made hat related to his thesis topic.

Then he was put onto a barrel, which was dragged backwards all the way to the city centre. During this 20min trip, he was accompanied by the guests of his defense, his thesis committee (who were crazy enough to follow), and a few of us dressed in medieval costumes. To ensure a "smooth ride", we actually blocked the traffic for the barrel to be dragged non-stop.

Another announcement was made in the city centre in front of the Otto-von-Guerick statue, in public.

Then the PhD had to drink a special drink made by us.

And we all drank beer and champagne to congratulate him.

The new PhD, his custom-made hat had a pen and a pen on it, as he was doing pen and touch interaction research.
But that wasn't it.

In the evening Mathias invited us to a restaurant to celebrate, and we had games staring him and his supervisor. We called this "the real PhD defense".

Overall a very great experience, and thanks Mathais for graduating this time so I could get a taste of the tradition (right after a paper deadline).

From what I heard, the custom-made hat tradition has been adopted by the U of Calgary guys. We'll see what we U of Waterloo people can do.  

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