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2015 IBM Master the Mainframe: Bigger Than Ever

Throughout the world, contests are starting in September and October

9/9/2015 12:00:41 AM | It’s time again to say “Hello to the Mainframe!” Part one of the 2015 IBM Master the Mainframe Contest for students across the United States and Canada is now open and begins Oct. 1.

The contest, sponsored by the IBM Academic Initiative z Systems program, runs every fall semester, offering students a fun and accessible introduction to the z Systems platform—and no experience is necessary. The IBM team that designs the contest—with input from industry and academia—seeks to provide a learning experience for students. Participants not only gain hands-on, marketable skills but also a better understanding of how mainframes are used in the real world.

Once they get to know the mainframe, students enjoy what they find. Anonymous survey comments submitted after the beginning of last year’s contest tell that:

“I had no idea what a mainframe was. I didn’t realize it runs fortune 500 companies around the world. This contest was perfect for me to see a different side of computing.”

“I was hesitant to get my hands on these machines, as I had no understanding of what I was about to get myself into. After working through many of the challenges, I realized had done a ton of work, and gained so much useful knowledge!”

“Seeing the way the world operates using mainframes is AMAZING! I have now found a new passion in life, and cannot wait to find a career in this field.”

Linux, DB2, Programming Languages Used in Challenges

Last year, 5,000 students from high schools, colleges and universities across North America registered to compete, marking the tenth consecutive year of growth for the contest since its inception in 2005. Though this is the eleventh annual running of the contest, past competitors will find a completely new experience waiting for them.

The contest is still divided into three parts, with each part increasing in difficulty and prize value. This year, to complete part one and be among the 2,600 winners to score a custom Master the Mainframe T-shirt, students will log onto Linux on z Systems and z/OS, completing challenges to explore both OSs. Students who complete part two will gain experience with z/TPF, several programming languages and DB2, just to name a few.

Those brave students who venture into the extremely difficult part three challenges will have an opportunity to gain real-world experience using DB2, Assembler and COBOL. These are all excellent interview discussion points when a company wants to talk to you as a result of your name listed on the prestigious part three Wall of Fame.

While contestants will gain some impressive enterprise computing skills, they’ll also have the chance to rack up some impressive prizes; including tablet computers and custom Master the Mainframe gear. Even more significant than the $55,000 in prizes available this year, though, is the chance for students to build their resumes and make connections with enterprise computing employers.

Several employers have already requested to be connected with students who complete this year’s part two challenges and who wish to pursue opportunities on the platform. Employers interested in recruiting top talent through the contest should check out our new z Systems Jobs Board where students can post their resume.

Registration is open now, with the contest starting Oct. 1 and closing Dec. 31. Registration remains open through Dec. 31.

Other Region Contests Start Soon

While we are highlighting the U.S. and Canada Master the Mainframe Contest, over a dozen other contests are being held globally. All contests can be accessed from our main 2015 IBM Master the Mainframe Contest Web page.


Contest Start Date Close Date
 China  Sept. 25  Oct. 31
 Japan  Sept. 25  Dec. 25
 DACH-Austria, Germany and Switzerland  Sept. 28  Dec. 18
 U.K.  Sept. 28  Dec. 31
 U.S. and Canada  Oct. 1  Dec. 31
 India  Oct. 5  Dec. 31
 BeNeLux-Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourgh  Oct. 5  Dec. 31
 CEE-Central and Eastern Europe  Oct. 5  Dec. 31
 Eastern Europe  Oct. 5  Dec. 31
 France  Oct. 5  Dec. 31
 Spain  Oct. 8  Dec. 31
 Brazil  Oct. 8  Dec. 31
 Mexico  Oct. 8  Dec. 31


Please help spread the word to any students who might be interested in bolstering their credentials and having fun on a world-class computing system. And good luck to the thousands of students who will Master the Mainframe this fall.

Troy Crutcher is Global Master the Mainframe Project Manager for IBM Academic Initiative z Systems.

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