A South Florida student’s path to graduation had a rocky start when police thought his decorated grad cap looked like a bomb.
Can Cevik, 23, an engineering major at Florida International University, decorated his cap with wires and a battery-powered “FIU 2019” display. It’s tradition for college students to decorate their caps with pictures and messages like “The Force Is Strong With This Grad” and “Thank, U Next!”
His classmates liked it, he said on Instagram, but when he arrived at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center Monday night, police got suspicious.
Cevik was in line to enter the arena when an officer spotted him. He was asked to take the cap off and step away, said Capt. Delrish Moss, public information officer for FIU police.
They thought it looked like an explosive, Cevik said on Instagram, and seized his cap and cellphone.
Cevik declined to do an interview with the Miami Herald.
Miami-Dade County officers working the graduation, who were specialized in explosive detection, came over to examine the cap while police redirected the crowds to another door.
“We have to protect our community,” Moss said.
Cevik created the cap with an Arduino Uno, an open-source micro-controller board powered by a nine-volt battery. After explaining it to police, they gave him a new cap and sent him to graduation.
“I was told not to do this again,” Cevik wrote.
They returned his cellphone but kept his original cap and dismantled it. The entire situation took about 10 minutes. The ceremony was not delayed.
It didn’t look like Cevik had any bad intentions, but police had to make sure, Moss said.
“At FIU, the police department takes safety very seriously. ... We are glad to have determined it was a harmless device,” he said.
Cevik isn’t bitter about it, and is sorry for the trouble he caused.
“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. ... .I didn’t mean to scare/hurt anyone!” Cevik wrote. “Had I known this would happen, I would’ve decorated my cap differently.”