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FIU graduation cap decoration mistaken for explosive

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Posted at 11:56 AM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 11:57:09-04

WEST MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla.-- It was a graduation ceremony Can Cevik will never forget. But he says it's the moments before commencement that left a lasting memory -- and it's all thanks to his custom graduation cap.

"I decorated it with an Arduino, which is sort of like a small computer that you can program," he said.

The FIU computer engineering major used his coding skills to program that mini computer to spell out "F-I-U 2019."

But when he walked up to the Ocean Bank Convocation Center Monday evening, campus cops thought he was trying to go out with a bang.

"He tells me to put it on the floor and slowly back away from it," Cevik recalled.

They also grabbed his phone and asked him to empty his pockets.

FIU police say the exposed wires and battery raised a few red flags. And even though it was harmless, the officer at the entrance were not taking any chances.

"While that seems very innocent and looks very innocent, it also has the potential to scare people. Police officers spotted it and took necessary precautions," FIU Police Capt. Delrish Moss said.

Luckily, it didn't take long for police to figure it all out and it didn't delay the ceremony.

Cevik was only held up for about 20 minutes. And he was able to walk as scheduled wearing a replacement cap. "I honestly think I was being a bit too naive. I probably should have seen that considering the current political climate we are in."

Unfortunately, police weren't able to give back his custom cap. But he says after five years of hard work, getting his degree is all that matters. And nothing could put a damper on his graduation day. Not even a brief bomb scare. "A couple hours before graduation, I just taped it right on my cap, and I guess that's what made it look a bit sketchy maybe. I probably won't bring anything like this to a graduation or any other public event again."

Cevik said after that ordeal, his focus now is on finding a job.

View this post on Instagram

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

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