MIT Hackers Bring Their Own Ahmed Clock to School

Maker News
MIT Hackers Bring Their Own Ahmed Clock to School
Photos: José Gómez-Márquez

In the wake of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest, the internet exploded with support for the Irving, Texas, teen.

The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed climbed to the top of trending tags Wednesday. Highlights included President Obama inviting Ahmed to bring his clock to the White House, and similarly supportive messages from Hillary Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, the Make: community, and people from every corner of the globe.

And today, hackers at MIT showed solidarity with Ahmed by erecting a huge seven-segment display with an #IStandWithAhmed sign in one of the main entrances of the university.

José Gómez-Márquez, an MIT medical device researcher who will be speaking at MakerCon next week, snapped photos of the giant clock as he passed through the hall, known as Lobby 7 at MIT, just before 10 a.m. By the time he backtracked at around 12:40 p.m., the clock was being taken down.

Gómez-Márquez says, “This is normal… [These hacks] go up in the middle of the night and MIT eventually takes them down.” The university employees who removed the clock said that the reason for doing so was concern over the device falling down. “Given that it was [near] a high traffic area,” says Gómez-Márquez, “that was their discretion.”


He was happy to see that those who removed the clock didn’t destroy the build. In fact, Gómez-Márquez says that it was removed “with the care of an archeologist.” As the clock was being brought down, Gómez-Márquez observed an Arduino Mega, lots of wires, and what he believes to be string LEDs to form the numbers.


UPDATE: Joseph Vella, the Facilities Team Director, is making sure the clock gets reunited with the hacker.

An in at MIT

MIT students and hackers are not the only people showing their support of Ahmed. MIT Astrophysicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein recently spoke with Ahmed on MSNBC, telling him, “You are my ideal student. A creative, independent thinker like you is the kind of person who should be becoming a physicist.” She invites him to come to MIT and tour their Center for Theoretical Physics. Watch their conversation below:

79 thoughts on “MIT Hackers Bring Their Own Ahmed Clock to School

  1. Scott says:

    Wouldn’t it be funny if that huge seven-segment display exploded one day

    1. Carl P. Mudgen says:

      only if it was in a room full of libtards

  2. RevDrEBuzz says:

    Oh that’s delicious. It is simply bizarre the lengths progressives will go.

    Is it any wonder why we were hit so easily on 9/11? No critical thinking among the progressive crowd.

    You guys at make might want to be more vigilant in the future, you have proven that there is not a lot of critical thinking skills amongst the Maker crowd. You guys can’t even identify a fake suitcase bomb.

    I will take Texas justice any day of the week.

    1. Jim Myers says:

      “Is it any wonder why we were hit so easily on 9/11? No critical thinking among the progressive crowd.” Umm – I guess you forgot that CONSERVATIVES WERE RUNNING THE GOVERNMENT WHEN 9/11 HAPPENED. CONSERVATIVES had the warnings about the attack, CONSERVATIVES IGNORED THE INTELLIGENCE.

      1. RevDrEBuzz says:


        1. NoJeb says:

          Apparently Bill Clinton was too busy not having sexual relations with that woman to stop that attack.

        2. Abram Carroll says:

          The FBI hired a bomb maker to blow up the WTC. When the bomb maker learn that he was to make a real bomb he started recording his conversations with the FBI.
          You can listen and view video to see who is in charge and who is the bomb maker. The Egypt connection was needed to make “Al Qaeda” seem real.

          Salem: Yeah, I mean because the lady was being honest and I was being honest and everything was submitted with a receipt and now it’s questionable.
          Anticev: It’s not questionable, it’s like a little out of the ordinary.
          Salem: Okay. Alright. I don’t think it was. If that’s what you think guys, fine, but I don’t think that because we was start already building the bomb which is went off in the World Trade Center. It was built by supervising supervision from the Bureau and the D.A. and we was all informed about it and we know that the bomb start to be built….

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    3. djsurrey says:

      No what is bizarre is people educated enough to work in an education setting can’t tell the difference between an electronic alarm clock and a bomb. He was not hiding it. It contained nothing that looked like explosive material. He showed it to his engineering teacher without issue.
      A kid should be able to show off an electronics project without getting into trouble.

      1. NoJeb says:

        I would wager $10,000 you couldn’t identify an IED if you were looking at one so how can anyone possibly say with 100% certainty that this device was harmless? Have you ever seen c4? Have you ever even seen gun powder in real life?

        1. djsurrey says:

          Please. No one called the bomb squad and the school was not evacuated.. They knew it was harmless. The only real question was the kids intent. No one involved has stated he called it anything but a clock. There is a presumption of innocence without actual evidence. Everyone in his family says he tinkers and fixes things. The kid could use some encouragement which he has received from innovative giants. Too bad people at his own school were too small minded to do their jobs.

        2. Jeff says:

          If you look closely at the photos of the clock, you MAY notice that one critical ingredient of a bomb is missing. That missing ingredient is something that explodes. Circuitry does not explode, nor does the digital display, nor the pencil case itself. Without any explosive material being present how can you call this clock a bomb? The science teacher realized it was a clock, only a clock, and complimented the kid’s work. The teacher that heard the clock beep is the first problem, but that’s what we get in this day and age of political correctness and zero tolerance.

          Seems one thing schools and police have a zero tolerance for now is common sense.

          1. ftuncukcryarwost says:

            The science teacher also told him not to show it around, because it looked suspicious… The kid also knew it looked suspicious himself, before he even took it to school in the first place… As he admits, on his own video, that he tied it shut with a cable/cord, and didn’t put a lock on it, because he didn’t want it to seem like a threat/suspicious…

      2. Fred J Morgan (Jeff) says:

        I AGREE… Is this real.. is MIT really this far gone? I use to respect this place.

        1. djsurrey says:

          Perhaps you are the one on the wrong side of this issue. We all know what MIT is.

      3. ftuncukcryarwost says:

        ” He showed it to his engineering teacher without issue.”

        Who, told him not to show it around because it looked suspicious… The kid also knew himself, that it looked suspicious, as, in his own video, he said he tied it shut with a cable like that, instead of a lock, because he didn’t want it to look like a threat/suspicious…

    4. Daniel Kim says:

      I think we were an easy target on 9/11 because the president did not take action on a report concerning Osama bin Laden’s ambition to attack the U.S. His dismissal was something like: “OK, you’ve covered your ass.”

    5. Abram Carroll says:

      Government can blow up building as often as they like. It’s not going to turn me into some right wing coward who throws his rights away any time some kid has a clock. It’s not going to turn me into some left wing coward who throws his rights away any time somebody has a glock.

      9/11 simply showed how stupid and gullible most Americans are. Bush said the “terrorists” attacked because we had freedom.. We thus needed to give up that freedom.. that is surrender.
      The official story was like some retarded hollywood flick.

      9/11 wasn’t done by a caveman. Osama didn’t have the capability to make such an attack. They claimed the first attack was the fictitious al qaeda, yet audio tapes show it was the FBI that orchestrated the first attacks.

      In reality the funding of 9/11 is classified. It’s classified because those who funded 9/11 were doing it on behalf of the US government as well as their own investments in the defense sector. The Neocons made the case for a “New Pearl Harbor” to boost defense spending. War is a business after all.

    6. winston says:

      Hit so easily? Yeah by US military insiders. Islamists didnt blow up the Twin Towers (leaving 1120 people unaccounted for to this day) and implode WTC 7. If you still believe the official fairy tale of 9/11, then u’r asleep in front of your TV!

      1. David Rosier says:

        I think your tinfoil hat is a little crooked.

    7. Nur says:

      So, if we didn’t make clocks, 9/11 would never have happened?

    8. Brad says:

      Or maybe, showing a 14 year old kid love instead of treating him like a terrorist, will actually prevent him from becoming an extremist.

      So the kid made a movie prop bomb, so did I when I was that age.

    9. 166mhz says:

      the kid should know what “lame” means ….

  3. RevDrEBuzz says:

    Well, the geniuses at Make didn’t see that it wasn’t really a clock at all. Wonder how that happened.

    Cheers folks.

    1. Jim Myers says:

      Actually, your linked article PROVES THAT IT WAS A CLOCK! I guess YOU are the FAILED GENIUS HERE. HAHAHAHA!!!

        1. djsurrey says:

          In Ahmed’s case there was no hoax. The clock stayed with him. He brought it in to show to his teacher.

          1. Carl P. Mudgen says:

            If Ahmed had simply answered the questions rather than being a wise-ass I doubt there would ever have been any issue. Instead, he chose to give vague/passive aggressive responses to questions about his “invention” thus, police had to investigate further. He wasn’t arrested, merely detained until LE could determine if he was purposely trying to pass the thing off as a threat. After they determined that he wasn’t, he was released. Of course, he and his father were prepared in advance for this and ready to take advantage of the predicted response.

          2. djsurrey says:

            Since there was no real threat and no evidence of wrong doing there was no particular need to rush an interrogation. It would have been sufficient to confiscate the clock and then question the boy, the family and the staff. They could have also questioned staff at Ahmed’s previous school. Instead it looks like an abuse of power and an attempt to intimidate.

          3. Carl P. Mudgen says:

            Yeah, you’re probably right. It’s always better to wait a week or so to question somebody in such situations, you know, give them the opportunity to get all nice and comfy.

          4. djsurrey says:

            “get all nice and comfy”
            uh, what?
            Do background checks. gather facts. Interview teachers and students. There was no threat. The police could have asked questions at the school. No need to hall him away in cuffs. Treat people with some dignity. He is not going anyplace. The school has his name and address. Did the police ask the family any questions? He is not a street kid.

          5. ftuncukcryarwost says:

            He talked more to the reporters, than he did the police at first…

  4. Man Against Time says:

    Chanda Prescod-(((((Weinstein)))))

    Every time.

  5. Carl P. Mudgen says:

    At least they actually built this clock. I tried to take a cue from young Ahmed and took a Twinkie out of the plastic wrap, placed it carefully on a plate and told the wife I baked her a cake… she told me to take a piss. I guess the wife is a Islamophobe or something.

    1. djsurrey says:

      Right. Did you end up in cuffs? Did not think so.

      1. NoJeb says:

        Who are you to judge his wife’s sexual proclivities?

      2. Carl P. Mudgen says:

        No, but I got to eat the Twinkie. Which, kinda like Ahmed and his activist father, was the plan all along.

  6. nhthinker says:

    MIT Hackers made a real clock: Ahmed, on the other hand, took complete guts out of manufactured 70s RadioShack clock &stuffed in box seemingly with the sole purpose of looking like a movie time-bomb prop.

    1. djsurrey says:

      That story is debunked. He used the board and parts from an 80’s clock but lets keep in mind he is just in grade nine. People on that site don’t seem to appreciate that Ahmed is showing a spark of interest in electronics that should be nurtured. We need more support for STEM education.

      1. NoJeb says:

        What we need is a nation of unhyphenated Americans working together. Sadly that doesn’t fit the progressive plan for America.

        1. djsurrey says:

          Happily technology and STEM education can provide an environment where other aspects of culture don’t interfere. It is okay to be cosmopolitan. Great societies have been and are cosmopolitan including the USA.

      2. nhthinker says:

        What Ahmed demonstrated was an interest in building props: His device showed no ingenuity nor invention related to clocks. What he reinvented was a movie time-bomb prop that has been “reinvented” many times by 14 year old boys. I’ve spent many years as a mentor for robotics in high school: I support STEM plenty. I do not support teens being less than honest and using false charges of racism to punk real supports of STEM. Ahmed will become a social outcast in the STEM community once he has to give a detailed explanation what and why he did his “clock” to electronically astute members of the STEM community.

        1. djsurrey says:

          Apparently you are completely wrong as big names in silicon valley are supporting Ahmed and so is MIT. A kid has to start someplace and with mentoring to set him on the right path great things could happen. We need young people engaged and not marginalized.

          1. nhthinker says:

            Just because big names in SV want to encourage Muslims in STEM – which the President has a outreach program for, does not mean they took the time to analyze the “clock”. Mark Cuban talked to Ahmed and he does seem very interested in science subjects but Ahmed was being coached by his sister on every answer related to the clock itself. I agree that we need to encourage kids into STEM but not by ignoring what seems to be clear evidence of trolling.

          2. djsurrey says:

            Tech companies want to encourage people in STEM regardless of race, religion and place of origin. This has served the USA well for at least the last 70 years.
            It was just a clock as Ahmed said. This is so clear because he brought it in and showed it to his engineering teacher. If it was supposed to be a fake bomb that teacher who knows technology would have been the one to confiscate it. Open and shut.

          3. ftuncukcryarwost says:

            The teacher told Ahmed not to show it around though… Ahmed also knew (as nhthinker posted) that, it could be perceived as a threat… Yet, he decided to do it anyways. Against the advice of his engineering teacher, who thought it would look suspicious to people not familiar with electronic “guts”…

          4. DrX says:

            No, we need honesty and real achievement, not handouts to liars because they come from a group that someone says is “marginalized”.

        2. brian_x says:

          He never represented it as anything but a clock but got in trouble for it anyway. Where the hell is your logic coming from?

          1. nhthinker says:

            Ahmed admitted that he understood it could be iewed as a threat: ”

            closed [the ‘clock’] with a cable, I didn’t want to lock it to make it
            seem like a threat … so it won’t look that much suspicious.”

        1. djsurrey says:

          I have replied to that video in a newer thread.

          1. Chet Scarn Halpert says:

            Sorry, but do you have a link to that thread?

      3. brian_x says:

        I swear there has to be a bunch of people out there who think STEM (or at least TE) education is a dangerous thing for kids because they’ll all turn into hackers or terrists or some shit like that.

      4. Abram Carroll says:

        “but lets keep in mind he is just in grade nine.”
        I designed my own circuits in kindergarten and soldered my own boards before first grade. But I agree with you. People are clueless about the electronic world around them. School can be a rough ride for smart kids. A large amount of resources is use to turn children into defective dollar store calculators. That is nobody gets the correct answer 100% of the time and one would usually return such a defective tool to get their dollar back. We spend what, like $100,000 to turn kids into defective $1 tools?

      5. Joshua says:

        Well, I took things apart when I was three and started building the types of things Ahmed built when I was five. This is not a troll, I seriously did! I started repairing things at age 10, and have gotten more and more advanced. Now I am 15.

        I have built and repaired speakers, laptops, desktops, vintage amps, air conditioners ETC – even sealed lead acid batteries!
        Now, I knew from the beginning that it was just some kind of clock that was taken apart and put into another box. I used to do the same thing, so I do have respect for what he did!
        I even have and run a radio station – !

    2. Daniel Kim says:

      Taking things apart is an important way to learn how they work. In school, many students dissect a frog in order to learn about vertebrate anatomy. I think it would be useful for school children to ‘dissect’ a CD player or other small electronic device in order to learn more about how these familiar items function. Ahmed is no Thomas Edison, but he engaged in an edifying activity in his spare time. He certainly did not deserve to be arrested and suspended from school.

  7. Charles Martel says:

    Good trial run for the kid. I see you at Maker are sticking to the innocent kid line instead of turning back to your simple enjoyable entertainment.

    Now that he has plenty of dupes to stand behind him, it will be imprudent to check any future potential bombs. Next step some Mohammadin brings a real bomb to school and you wonder why the hell the school didn’t do anything about it.

    Again, this was a trial run.

    1. djsurrey says:

      You are just randomly making things up.

    2. djsurrey says:

      I’d guess they are sticking with the innocent kid line because there is a presumption of innocence when there is no evidence and no threat.

  8. Chet Scarn Halpert says:

    MIT’s standards must be pretty low.

  9. Fred J Morgan (Jeff) says:

    1.) Take something that’s already invented and built.
    2.) Dismantle it.
    3.) Slap it together in some sloppier fashion.
    4.) Claim you invented it.

    Hey,, welcome to MIT…. does not say much about this institution…!

    1. djsurrey says:

      2) is just an assumption. It might have been surplus parts. The original case may have been badly broken. It could have had a burnt out transformed or leaked capacitor. The origin of the circuit boards was not part of the story.
      4) Young people often misuse the word invent.

  10. Dug FmJamul says:

    Here is another great example of the fraud little Ahmed the Bomb Hoaxer perpetrated on the American People…

    “This video shows that the supposed clock invention by a 14 year old is in fact not an invention. The ‘clock’ is a commercial bedside alarm clock removed from its casing. There is nothing to indicate that the clock was even assembled by the child. I suspect this was brought into school to create an alarmed reaction.

    So, Mark Zuckerberg, Mr. President, Make Magazine (which should know better), and others: You’ve been duped. Please do recognize youths of all backgrounds who create wonderful inventions with electronics. The kid making press around the world did not invent or build a clock. ”

    What Mr. Talobot doesn’t know is the Progressive Mind and how it works like I do.

    Progressive’s like Sam Seder (The Majority Report) don’t give a rat’s ass if little Ahmed was a fraud or not, it’s all about the false narrative how America is mistreating Muslims in America. This fraud by little Ahmed the Bomb Hoaxer is the HANDS UP DON’T SHOOT for that lie and every single SPD in America including here on this thread wants to keep the lie alive.

    I did contact Mr. Talbot and asked him to call into Sam’s Show Monday and explain to him how he was duped. Let’s see if that happens.

    1. djsurrey says:

      Your conclusions are clearly just politics and circular reasoning. The circuit boards do look like they are from a commercial clock. Beyond that no evidence has been presented regarding the condition the clock was in when Ahmed got his hands on it. When I look at this project I see the result of a inquisitive mind tinkering. This shows the spark of interest in how technology works. It is a place to start. It was the media not Ahmed who repeatedly refereed to the clock as home made. In an interview Ahmed says what he did was very simple.
      Beyond that we are living in a technological society at a time in declining enrollments in the physical sciences. Promotion of STEM education needs to be a priority. Young people like Ahmed should be encouraged and mentored. Don’t snuff out the spark of interest.
      Have a look at what Cambridge has done to foster STEM in the UK.

      1. Dug FmJamul says:

        What does Common Sense mean to you?

        1. djsurrey says:

          Just as I said in a new post

          Schools need to be places of mentoring, encouragement and widening horizons for all students. People who are engaged don’t cause trouble. Changing school into a sterile environment where any spark of interest in technology is squashed can only lead to a stagnant society.

          1. Dug FmJamul says:

            I agree, but who controls the progressive public system, progressives and they are the ones responsible for the current dysfunctions but refuse to abandon their failed ideology. Put the blame on democrats running the school system where it belongs.

          2. djsurrey says:

            I’m not interested in finger pointing. I’m taking about a general need to promote STEM education and encouragement for students exploring the technological world. I think we might want to listen to Ebon Upton who I linked once but will repeat here for convenience
            I like positive transformative solutions and I’d like to see the US fortunes to continue to be bright because I think the world needs a strong successful USA.

          3. Dug FmJamul says:

            Finger pointing is the only way to make progressive democrats responsible for their failures in their progressive public school system. Do you really think these progressives will change their behavior if they are not held accountable?

          4. djsurrey says:

            Unlike you I don’t have a clue regarding US politics. My interest is STEM education and that is more universal.

          5. Dug FmJamul says:

            “Unlike you I don’t have a clue regarding US politics.”,

            The sad fact of the matter neither do most Americans.

  11. djsurrey says:

    Interest in science and technology needs to be fostered not squashed!

    Listen to Eben Upton

    “The direction we’ve drifted in has deprived us of a supply of computer programmers. We have a generation of consumers not producers, and consumption hardware and not production hardware,” he said. “We are trying to generate a group of people who see computing as an open environment, see it as a platform for creating their own destiny.”


  12. Eric Fahrenthold says:

    Several how to build a clock videos missing only the explosive part from an IED popping up on how to sites like this one.
    Congrats, making the US unafe.

    …….and the dumb asses that can’t figure out he was detained not arrested and the questioning not interogating . he was detained for not arrested was detained for wax a hoax bomb.
    There is no need for a bomb squad when there are no explosives. Nor is there a need for explosives when a young man not a child brings a hoax bomb to school.
    The police do not need the suspects confession for making a hoax bomb or to charge them with for example a hoax.
    If the police required a confession for crimes committed then I reckon the crime rate would go up.
    The fact he is islamic was never discussed in the arrest and assuming he is based on his race would then be discriminaton
    Therefore ahmeds family is guilty of reverse discrimination.

  13. Carl P. Mudgen says:

    Man, it sure is easy to get your comments deleted around here… just mention the truth and POOF! Anyhoo, this just in, my #IStandwithCarlsTwinkie hashtag was seen by the right folks and Gordon Ramsey just tweeted, “Cool Cake, Carl. You want to bring that to Hell’s Kitchen?” If its good enough for Chef Ramsey, I don’t understand why my wife doesn’t believe that me putting a Twinkie on a plate is the same as if I cooked her a cake from scratch… I guess she’s an Islamophobe.

  14. David Rosier says:

    Now that it’s been proven that the kid didn’t build the clock and that the whole thing was a hoax, I wonder if MAKE and these HACKERS will apologise to the school and the police who acted responsibly. I would rather have a thousand Ahmeds detained than have one school blown up by a suicide bomber.

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Sophia is the managing editor of the Make: blog. When she’s not greasing editorial gears, she likes to run, ride, climb, and lift things, and make lo-tech goods like zines, desserts, and altered clothing. @sophiuhcamille

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