Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MIT's Star Simpson: Standing Out on Career Day

Once again, Boston is in the news for reacting or over-reacting (depending on your point of view and, no doubt, age) to the sight of something that looks like it just might be an explosive device.
In this case, the star turn has been made by one Star Simpson, an MIT student who showed up at Logan airport "wearing a sweatshirt that had a circuit board affixed to the front with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery."  (Source: Boston Globe artcle, September 21, 2007. Check out the article for a look at the device. I'm not bomb expert, but at first, admittedly ignorant and superficial, glance it doesn't look that unlike what you might find under the shirt of a suicide terrorist.)

Simpson was at the airport to pick up a friend, not only wearing the sweatshirt in question, but holding "a lump of what looked like putty in her hands." It turned out to be, duh-oh, Play-Do. (I'm no plastics explosives expert, but doesn't white Play-Do look like the stuff called "plastic explosive"?)
The upshot was that Simpson was surrounded by the police, who arrested her and "quickly determined that the device was harmless." The sweatshirt also had "Course VI" written on it. For those in the know - which apparently doesn't include the folks at Logan Airport - Course VI is MIT speak for their computer science major. (I was a Course XV student back in the day, but I never wore a sweatshirt that contained something that looked like an Improvised Explosive Device.)
"She said it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day," [Massachusetts State Police Major Scott] Pare said.  "Thankfully because she followed our instructions, she ended up in our cell instead of a morgue," Pare said. "Again, this is a serious offense ... I’m shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport."
Star Simpson is no doubt a very smart cookie. For starters, she's at MIT (and in a rigorous Course like VI). She's also imaginative and clever. On a site that she's a member of, Instructables, she's got all sorts of her inventive ideas on display: a backpack made out of a plastic shopping bag; how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew; how to concoct mint-flavored milk.

You tell me why a female MIT student, Course VI, an athlete (swim team), from Hawaii, creative and imaginative (with, by the way, a rather unusual hair-do) needs to wear something that is going to look to stupid, over-reacting, boring, tedious grown-ups kind of bomb-ish to stand out on career day.
Any more evidence needed that Brand Me is running amok?

In any case, Star Simpson is now standing out well beyond career day. Prospective employers may, indeed, give her a second and third look. Next wave companies - what are we up to now? Gen Z? - may even find this little piece of deliberate or unintentional performance art to be just the thing. But some employers are n doubt going to make the determination that she is someone who is a bit too edgy. Deliberately provocative.  Careless. Unthinking. Narcissistic.

Sorry, Star, your little star turn may not turn out to be your smartest career move of all time.


Mark Cahill said...

She's going to prove that there is no such thing as bad press...

As an artist it's very hard to stand out and get noticed. She managed it spectacularly. Expect more of the same...

Mary Schmidt said...

All goes to prove (again) that you can have a high IQ and still be dumb as a box of rocks.

So, while airport security was dealing with this attention junkie...what could they have missed that was a real threat?

Anonymous said...

> So, while airport security was
> dealing with this attention
> junkie...what could they have
> missed that was a real threat?

Somebody ate the last donut?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.