An MIT student wearing a device on her chest that included lights and wires was arrested at gunpoint at Logan International Airport this morning after authorities thought the contraption was a bomb strapped to her body.
Star Simpson, 19, was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and approached an airport employee in Terminal C at 8 a.m. to inquire about an incoming flight from Oakland, according to Major Scott Pare of the State Police. She was holding a lump of what looked like putty in her hands. The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said.
“She said it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day,” Pare said. “She was holding what was later found to be playdough.”
Affixed to the front of her black sweatshirt was a pale beige circuit board with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery. Written on the back of the sweatshirt in what appeared to be gold magic marker was the phrase “socket to me” and below that was written “Course VI,” which refers to the electrical engineering and computer science program at MIT.
According to the MIT website, Simpson is from Kihei, Hawaii, and is a sprinter on the school’s swim team. On Simpson’s personal website at MIT, she says she is studying computers and enjoys tinkering in a student-run machine shop.
“In a sentence, I’m an inventor, artist, engineer, and student, I love to build things and I love crazy ideas,” the website says.
So where the whole incident started from was the security gaurd who thought her art was suspicious. From my experience with those kinds of people in airports or otherwise they were likely not that educated – certainly not aware of the ways of computer geeks and how this sort of art would be really not be a-typcial. Seems like we have some ‘diversity training’ needs of our own as a culture.