Evangelizing Mainframe
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Students Master the SHARE Providence Hackathon

In a city founded in the 17th Century, Jonny Lazarte, a student from New Jersey-based Bergen Community College, successfully solved multiple IBM mainframe-related challenges and captured first place at the SHARE Providence Student Career Day Master the Mainframe Hackathon on Aug. 8th. The signature event featured 60 students from 12 colleges and universities. Students hailed from multiple states, including Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Tucked away on the 5th floor of the Providence Convention Center, students brandished their laptops, setup shop at long cafeteria-style tables and attempted to correctly answer as many mainframe-related challenges as possible within a two-hour time limit. Lazarte successfully completed 8 out of a possible 17 challenges within the time allotted. 

“The 8th challenge introduced z/OS VSAM, Virtual Storage Access Method, to the contestants,” said Paul Newton, consulting IT specialist, IBM. “The challenge required the winner to recreate three unique VSAM data types with new average length and maximum length record values using IDCAMS utility.”

Newton said each multi-layered challenge took about 4 days to produce. “It took us about two to three days to come up with the idea for each challenge. Then we had an SME or SME team review it and make corrections,” he said. “We then created instructions for each challenge that the students were expected to follow. The overall goal was to educate students on how IBM Z systems work.”

Lazarte took first place with a score of 391. Akeem Brooks from North Carolina A&T took second place with a total of 293 points and Dan Snyder from New Brunswick Community College took third place with a final post of 271. Lazarte’s first-place prize was a Samsung Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Reaction was positive for Troy Crutcher, IBM Z Academic Initiative program manager, following the first SHARE Master the Mainframe Hackathon. “The hackathon was part of SHARE’s Student Career Day, which turned out to be very rewarding for not only the students, but also IBM business partners, SHARE and IBM,” he said. “We’re looking to make the hackathon a regular event at SHARE, at least once per year. It was a big win for everyone involved.”

IBM and Rocket Software experts helped students during the event, and LEAD-IT members provided technical assistance.

Students aren’t the only ones who will have an opportunity to flex their mainframe acumen. The 2017 Master of the Mainframe Learning System Challenge is a global contest open to anyone with a persistent internet connection and ample humility.

Doug Rock is publisher of Destination z.

Posted: 11/7/2017 12:57:36 PM by Doug Rock

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