Graduation Day

Three years of hard work was rewarded on Saturday with my graduation from The University of Melbourne. A beautiful warm day greeted us for the late afternoon ceremony as I arrived around 2pm to perform the graduand registration and regalia collection. I was graduating with a Masters which meant I was adorned with a trencher and black gown with hood of black silk, lined with olive green signifying the faculty of Science. Photos with the family were next before we were all ushered into Wilson Hall and seated for the 4pm starting time. I was seated in the third row, and so had a fabulous view of all the proceedings.

The occasional address was given by Prof David Jamieson, one of the chief physicians in all of Australia. He started by recounting his early physics work, and how it had inspired him to pursue the life of Galileo. He was fascinated with how an unknown star first observed by the astronomer may have infact been the planet Neptune. Dr. Jamieson has been studying Galileo’s notebooks and found some interesting, buried notations, suggesting Galileo – then working with a crude, early telescope he crafted himself – was onto something big. Galileo was observing the four large moons of Jupiter in the years 1612 and 1613. Over several nights, he also recorded in his notebook the position of a nearby star that is not in any modern catalogues – infact, Dr. Jamieson believes it was Neptune. So off to Italy he went, to look thru Galileo’s notebooks and journals, looking for further evidence. Alas, none was found. But this search for inquiry and truth is indicative of that which we as scientists (I suppose I can now say I’m an engineer and scientist!) must strive for. In these uncertain times of fake news, we must by inquisitive of what we read, and demand rigour of answers. It is up to us as new graduands to uphold these values.

Finally it was our turn at 10 seconds of fame. One by one, the hundred or so Bachelor degrees, Master degrees and Doctorates were called up one by one to be greeted by the chancellor and given our certificate of achievements. I had received a Masters with Distinction – only the top 5% of recipients are awarded this, and I was one of only five awarded during my ceremony. Not too shabby if I say so myself! Being a Masters students means ‘doffing’ your hat to the chancellor, receiving your award and a brief congratulations, doffing your hat to the dean, and exiting down the stairs. The only problem is that the hat sits somewhat higher on your head than a normal cap, and so it takes a couple of goes to doff (putting two fingers on the peak) the hat correctly.

A tremendous musical interlude was performed with the whole hall reverberating to the sounds of Italian opera before the Valedictory speech was given before the procession led us all out into the warm afternoon. We walked over to the Botany building where I had spent a lot of my three years, and took some photos out the front. Finally, as customary, we walked around to the Old Quad underneath the famed vaulted rooves and took some last photos amongst the famous sandstone buildings. My University of Melbourne days have come to an end.

Postera Crescam Laude.

To read more about Galileo and Neptune, see:


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