Penguins, Power, Mysterious Plans: The Intense World of Tim Hwang

Did the flock of cardboard penguins standing outside the Science Center surprise you last week? Were you scared by their beady orange eyes? Do inexplicable, random things make you uncomfortable?

If so, Tim R. Hwang ‘08 has some bad news for you. “Here, I am liberated…College has given me the reins to do stuff that I am interested in and that are crazy.” Hwang assembled a team which built the penguins and set them in front of the Science Center up under the cover of night. When the first batch were taken down by Yard-Ops, Hwang and his team created “Generation 2,” and tried their luck again. This time, the penguins stood for days.

When people asked Hwang questions about his flock, he refused to answer. “A lot of people are convinced that I’m in a finals club now.” Hwang is not in a finals club, and he is finally willing to answer questions.

FM: How do you make the penguins?

TH: You cut out a penguin out of cardboard or foam board and duct tape a dowel to the back. It’s like making a penguin sign.

FM: Why did you put the penguins up?

TH (inscrutably): The reason was that there wasn’t any reason.

FM: Are you planning anything else?

TH: Oh yeah. I live my life out in projects. It’s what I do to keep busy. I have too much time on my hands.

Hwang outlines his vision in depth in his self-penned Umbrella Manifesto (, but a sampling of the things Hwang has planned for Harvard are: standing outside of the Science Center in a suit and tie at lunch every day for a week reading digits of pi, getting a $100,000 grant to organize a mini-college that focuses on Internet education, investing in rental properties in Cambridge, and of course, world domination. “The dream is to topple third world governments and read the New York Times before it’s published.”

Will Hwang’s projects succeed? Is global dictatorship in his clutches? Maybe someday. But until then, Harvard is going to be a bit more interesting.