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:


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” ( 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.

(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.

Real life representation of a ‘Shmoo’ made by contest winners of Barcode-Shmarcode
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 We also offer more opportunities for conference scholarships! You can get all the information here.


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