MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – A computer engineering graduate from Florida International University nearly caused a bomb scare at his graduation this week after being stopped by police because the handmade electronic decoration on his graduation cap looked a little like a bomb.
Can Cevik posted a picture of the cap and recounted the story on his Instagram account, saying he was stopped by Monday evening at a security entrance as he was walking into Florida International University’s graduation ceremony.
They were suspicious of the gadget, which had a flashing, digital display that was connected to a 9-volt battery and electronic boards with red, black, yellow and green wires.
“They said ‘hold on, we need to see what that is on your head,'” and told him to put the cap on the floor and step away, Cevik said. Then they had him empty his pockets and briefly took his cell phone.
“They were just basically trying to figure out what sort of a threat this could be, is it a bomb, that sort of thing,” he said.
Cevik explained to officers that he made the device with an Arduino Uno, a palm-sized computer micro-controller that can be used in all sorts of electronics projects.
He had programmed it to make the display say “FIU 2019.”
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TL;DR: cops assumed small microcontroller was an explosive device at my graduation. Dear FIU @fiuinstagram and Miami Beach community, yesterday as I was about to pass through security to attend my graduation, I was stopped by police for what they saw on my graduation cap; them assuming the worst, my cap and cellphone (temporarily) were seized as police were investigating what it was. All of a sudden, they closing doors and leading people away from the local vicinity. After some discussion and explaining the whole deal, I was told not to do this again and I wouldn't be able to bring my cap (was given a new cap). just to clear things up, my cap had an Arduino Uno with a 7-segment display on it and was powered by a 9V battery; it was not an explosive; an Arduino is a microcontroller, like a small programmable computer. My Arduino and original cap was destroyed and not given back to me, though my cellphone was. Despite not getting ~$20 worth of electronics back, I appreciate the work put in by the police to ensure everyone was safe as well as their continued work to keep the community safe. After being held back for about 10 minutes, I continued to my graduation and everything was back to normal. Thanks especially to police woman Ms. Rubio for helping to deal with the whole situation. Sorry @miamibeachpd I didn't mean to scare/hurt anyone! Had I known this would happen, I would've decorated my cap differently (makes for a good story though!) I'm just an engineering student trying to get my degree! #FIUGrad #FIU #FIU2019 #Police #Arduino #FalseAlarm #Engineering #OkayThisIsEpic #fiualumni #Graduation @onlyindade @fiuinstagram @fiu_cec @miamibeachpd @reddit @local10news @elegoo_official @arduino.cc @fiupres5
“Initially, I did feel nervous, because I honestly was not expecting this. I probably should have, given the state of the socio-political climate with all these dangerous shootings and everything, which unfortunately does happen,” he said. “To me it was fair for them to assume the worst.”
Cevik said that he made the decoration last month for fun from about $20 worth of parts he’d bought from Amazon.
“I just threw it all together and then I sort of forgot about it until the day of graduation and then I taped it on my graduation cap and went to graduation,” he said.
He wrote on Instagram, “Despite not getting ~$20 worth of electronics back, I appreciate the work put in by the police to ensure everyone was safe as well as their continued work to keep the community safe. After being held back for about 10 minutes, I continued to my graduation and everything was back to normal.”
Cevik graduated on time with his classmates, but he was a few minutes late and missed the singing of the alma mater and national anthem.
After the ceremony, Cevik posed for a photo with the officer who stopped him.
“She was definitely cool about the whole situation, that’s for sure,” he said.
Cevik said he’s now trying to find a job as a software developer in South Florida.
“I’m on my job search right now, so that’s what I’m focused on,” he said.
(©2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)