Seidenberg student Tejas Chavan wins one of only two UXPA International scholarships

Dear Tejas,

On behalf of the UXPA International Board and the 2017 Student Scholarship Committee, we would like to congratulate you on winning the 2017 UXPA Student Scholarship Award.

Your entry was selected as it stood out to the judging panel for its content and originality. You will be joining us in Toronto next month for the UXPA 2017 International Conference!

That was the email Tejas Chavan (MS in Information Systems) received informing him about the scholarship he’d just won to the UXPA 2017 International Conference. This wouldn’t be the first time Tejas has travelled to another country for a conference – in fact, the last time was less than a year ago – but it’s certainly going to be an event he will attend with career goals in mind.

“Since I will be graduating soon, and I will be looking for a full-time opportunity (obviously in UX), I have been attending lots of meetups, and conferences where I can showcase myself and make some good connections as well,” Tejas said. “With that context, I was recently shortlisted by UXDC committee for their UXDC2017 annual summit on April 14th to present my poster and to represent the Seidenberg School and Pace University as a student delegate.”

Tejas has spent his final semester working with Professor Stacey Sarris on an independent study project regarding research methods in human-computer interaction (HCI). It was while working on this project that Tejas met the president of UXPA DC, Ali Tobolsky. Tejas had been reaching out to UX industry experts to survey them for an assignment; Ali was one of them.

“Now the real story starts,” Tejas explained. “I connected her on LinkedIn and sent her my survey link asking if she can forward it to any relevant contacts. She sent me a number of links to groups where I could try my luck. So, I was submitting my survey in each group and I stumbled upon this post saying ‘UXPA International 2017 Student Scholarship.’ I thought since it came it to me from nowhere, I should give it a try. I submitted my application which consisted of a few questions and a letter of recommendation, which I got from Prof. Sarris. I had a very strict deadline to submit it within two days since I got to know about it pretty late.”

Tejas Chavan with Professor Stacey Sarris after getting the good news that Tejas was awarded the scholarship
Tejas Chavan with Professor Stacey Sarris

The submission went through in time, and Tejas received an email from Sara Mastro, the UXPA International Vice President, and Jack Holmes, the UXPA Student Scholarship Award Chair, telling him that he was a scholarship recipient.

“I cannot really believe that I am one of the two winning students from the world. I am feeling ecstatic for getting selected for this award and I would like to thank Prof. Stacey and all my other friends for being a solid support throughout this journey.”

The conference is taking place in Toronto this year, and Tejas will receive flights and transportation, four nights at a hotel, registration to the conference and a year’s membership to UXPA International.

Professor Stacey Sarris, who is an expert in user experience and user interface design, said: “I’m very proud of Tejas; he has thrown himself into User Centered Design, created opportunities for himself, and has taken advantage of everything that comes his way.” Stacey

“I’ve already started packing my bags!” Tejas added.

But wait! There’s more!

Not long after Tejas’ great news, the kind folks at Seidenberg decided they didn’t want him to be lonely, so we are sending his teammates with him to attend the conference and represent their project and the Seidenberg School in Toronto!

Now, Abhishek Kale (MS in Information Systems), Nayana Madhekar (MS in Information Systems), and Honglin Yi (MS in Computer Science) will also get to attend and participate in this exciting conference.

The UX gang is excited to be going to Toronto!
From left to right, Professor Stacey Sarris and her students Nayana Madhekar, Honglin Yi, Abhishek Kale, and Tejas Chavan

Congratulations to all four of these incredible students and to Professor Sarris! We can’t wait to hear how the conference goes!

The Answers to the Burning Question: What is a Shmoo?

Seidenberg student Anthony C. Martini (MS/CS ’16), recipient of the NSF CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service, reflects on his recent experience at ShmooCon. He writes:

“Readers,

First and foremost, thank you to the ‘Shmoozers’ who sponsored my trip thought the Shmooze-a-Student Scholarship awarded to 25 attendees each year to help subsidize the trip expense for students. I have received the scholarship for 2 years in a row and found the experience invaluable and encourage all students to apply.

ShmooCon is different; “ShmooCon is an annual East Coast hacker convention hell-bent on offering three days of an interesting atmosphere for demonstrating technology exploitation, inventive software and hardware solutions, and open discussions of critical infosec issues” (Shmoocon.com). The philosophy is to keep the conference at around 1400 attendees, and thus manageable by Mr. Bruce Potter, Mrs. Heidi Potter, and the ‘ShmooGroup’ team.

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(Left to right: Anthony Martini, Bruce Potter, Heidi Potter, Nolan Hsu a student)

ShmooCon itself is a very affordable conference, which allows many young students and professionals to attend. However, spots at this conference are highly coveted and often sell out within 20 seconds after spots become available online (we like to call this “Happy F5 Day!” in reference to the online browser refresh key). I feel that this conference’s InfoSec industry to hacker-con ratio would be about 30/70. This dynamic leaves room for being silly over professional, spontaneous over regimented, and laid back rather than rushed. Also if you are a swag-monger, you could easily leave the conference with enough security vendor t-shirts to impress your friends with one for each day of the week.

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Real life representation of a ‘Shmoo’ made by contest winners of Barcode-Shmarcode
Anthony
Anthony Martini himself, showing of some #PacePride

ShmooCon is very entertaining, offering 3 tracks of talks all weekend as well as events such as Lock Pick Village by Toole, ShmooCon Labs, Hack Fortress, Wireless CTF and just so many more. Winners of events often win the most up-to-date gadgets ranging from tablets to entire 3D printing machines to tickets for next year’s con. Below is the winner of this year’s ‘Barcode-Shmarcode,’ in which contestants must make the most impressive and functionally scanning barcode.

The Theme:The Shmoo: What is a Shmoo?

The Shmoo is a mythical creature and does not have much significance in the ways of security or hacking, per se, but it does promote the individuality that is the essence of the con. All in all, this conference has a very unique culture that is sure to remain so for many years, andif you need a hacker or security conference to attend as your first, this should be the one. You can view many of the talks for free at the website, in their archive that is provided free of charge to the public; however, the benefit is to be amongst others in the community — to mingle, make friends and build a professional network. Did I mention that many of the vender booths are hiring students for internships and full-time positions? I hope to see you at ShmooCon of 2016!”

If anyone has any questions please feel free to reach out to the ShmooGroup at info@shmoocon.org. We also offer more opportunities for conference scholarships! You can get all the information here.