Evangelizing Mainframe
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Masters of the (Mainframe) Universe

The top five winners of the 2011 IBM Master the Mainframe Contest were recognized last week during an awards ceremony in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Finishing first—out of 3,936 competitors from more than 400 schools in the U.S. and Canada—was Yeming Hu of Dalhousie University. It was Hu’s third top-five finish. Rounding out the list were Nathan Voth of Georgian College; Vance Morris, West Texas A&M University; Reno Alvarado, Marist College; and Tri Nguyen, University of Texas at Austin. A full list of the nearly 2,000 winners is available at the Master the Mainframe Wall of Fame.

Sponsored by the IBM Academic Initiative System z program, the contest has seen seven consecutive years of growth. It’s designed to give students a hands-on opportunity to learn about enterprise computing, in particular IBM’s z/OS operating system. And while the challenges are aimed at university students, 2011 marked the third-straight year that more than 1,000 high school students participated.

The contest itself is broken down into three parts, each progressively more difficult:

  1. In the first phase, IBM provides screenshots and direction as to what students need to do in order to introduce basic mainframe concepts and get participants comfortable with the mainframe interface. The first 1,500 to score 100 percent receive T-shirts.
  2. The next part requires students to apply what they learned in Part 1 to perform more extensive systems programming and application development tasks. The first 60 to complete this section correctly receive a $100 pre-paid debit card and a certificate. All who score 100 percent on this portion are invited to upload their resumes on the Student Opportunity System database, a recruiting tool for IBM clients and partners.
  3. The final part involves real-life challenges encountered by systems programs, requiring contestants to do extensive work over weeks and months. The five students who most accurately complete this final stage received a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The 2012 Master the Mainframe contest for U.S. and Canada will begin in the fall. Worldwide, mainframe contests have attracted more than 45,000 students in 32 countries.

Mike Westholder is site editor of Destinationz.org.

Posted: 3/27/2012 4:00:46 AM by Mike Westholder

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