I'm pretty exicted about the new ShaderFX tool in Maya LT. I've spent the last year learning graphics programming using DirectX11, as well as shader programming in HLSL. This kind of knowledge and skillset is a must for a good technical artist, along with rigging characters for animation, and scripting. ShaderFX allows you to very quickly create advanced shader networks using a visual node based editing tool, rather than having to write HLSL, GLSL, or CG shaders by hand. I still think it's a good thing to know how to do shaders the manual way, but ShaderFX goes a long way toward making shader creation a more artist friendly task now.
So, rather than write a long blog post about what I think some of the cool features of ShaderFX are, and how to use it, I've put together a 30 minute video. Also, you can download the ShaderFX shader graph I use in the video here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/74gdnyqlw72vbhj/sven_body.sfx