A Brooklyn lab’s deviant magic

Something is brewing in this Downtown Brooklyn lab.

On a white board, someone has scrawled out an intricate sequence of numbers and a flowchart. Students are tapping away on laptops and working through lines of code with the inspired intensity of artists.

Nasir Memon is the lab director of the Information Systems and Internet Security laboratory in the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, but he’s conceded free rein of the place to his students. “We provide them a lab and they do whatever they want," he said. "I say, ‘Don’t expect to learn anything from me.’”

So lots of students stay past midnight at the 24-hour lab to work and play. “What the outside world does in technology, we want to be five years ahead of them,” said graduate student Jeyavijayan Rajendran, who studies hardware design insecurities amongst other things. “That drives us crazy.”

In this nondescript space, a little deviant magic is happening. “I met someone who had the sparkle in his eye,” said Memon, “He said, ‘I just like to break things, I just want to find a place where I can poke it and bring it down.’”

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