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IBM Master The Mainframe Contest Prepares Students With In Demand IT Skills For A Smarter Planet

Over 4,600 students compete from US and Canada


Poughkeepsie, N.Y. - Throughout the last 49 years, the IBM (NYSE: IBM) mainframe has advanced, anticipating both the present and future needs of businesses. Organizations are moving more cloud, mobile, big data and analytics computing projects on to mainframes and joining them with traditional projects like transaction processing, operational analytics and database management to develop solutions that can empower a Smarter Planet. Because of these trends, today’s mainframes are growing in popularity, requiring a new generation of mainframe experts.

IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest, part of the company’s Academic Initiative, equips high school and college students with the basic skills needed to make them more competitive in the job market. This year’s contest, which drew over 4,600 students from the US and Canada, was the largest turnout for IBM in North America since its 2005 inception. The three-part contest serves as an introduction to programming and application development and requires no initial mainframe experience. As students complete each part of the contest, judges evaluate their results and reward those who move on to the next step. Each phase gets considerably harder as students progress, beginning with basic mainframe navigation to completing a project that tackles a real-world business scenario.

This year’s top three contest winners are:

1st place: Miles Nosler, Texas State University
2nd place: Benjamin Paul, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
3rd place: Sushain Cherivirala, Dulles High School

In addition to the contest introducing new IT skills, IBM helps students job search by connecting them with industry-related jobs posted on The job board is a resource to link IBM System z clients and partners with students learning the mainframe and professionals seeking System z job opportunities. To date, more than 4,300 job seekers have registered. regularly features over 1,000 mainframe-related jobs.

“Learning with the latest enterprise technology and studying real-world scenarios helps my students gain market-ready skills before they graduate,” said William Cunningham, faculty member, Nova Scotia Community College. “Last year, one of my graduates landed a job based on his participation in the Master the Mainframe contest.”

According to the 2012 IBM Tech Trend Report, as business demand for emerging technologies such as mobile, big data and analytics, social business and cloud rise, enterprises are facing an increased IT skills shortage. The report showed that only one out of ten organizations surveyed had the skills needed to implement these advanced technologies, with roughly one-quarter of those reporting major skill gaps, and 60 percent or more stating moderate to major shortfalls.

IBM’s Enterprise Systems Education Program has been working closely with academic institutions worldwide to communicate the industry’s skills requirements and create new enterprise computing programs (minors, concentrations, and certificate programs) in an ongoing effort to educate and encourage students to enter the enterprise systems field. IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest provides educators with an interesting way to increase enrollment and reinforce the skills their students are learning in these new programs.

“The fantastic turnout by students and difficult challenges set by our IBM technical experts made this our toughest contest yet,” said Michael Todd, team leader, IBM Master the Mainframe contest. “All of the student competitors deserve special recognition for their extraordinary accomplishments, and we hope they will continue to use the skills they’ve learned to help organizations build their big data, cloud, and mobile computing projects.”

The IBM Master the Mainframe contest, now in its 8th year, reaches 33 countries, with new countries such as Austria, India, Poland and Spain added each year. The 2012 contests drew a total of 13,813 students globally. For further information, please go to IBM Master the Mainframe Contest 2012 or the Master the Mainframe Facebook page.

IBM’s Academic Initiative provides more than 30,000 higher education professionals with no charge access to enterprise software, curriculum and teaching materials to help students gain advanced IT skills.

Read what Miles Nosler has to say about his experience competing in the 2012 Master the Mainframe Contest on IBM’s Smarter Planet blog.


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