Apr 06 2015

IBM Names Student Masters of Mainframes

College and high school students pit their skills against the best in mainframe programming.

A record number of students from around the world competed in IBM’s latest Master the Mainframe contest, and plans for next year’s global competition are clicking into place.

IBM announced in March that 8,100 high school and college students participated in last year’s global contest, part of the company’s z Systems Academic Initiative to orient students to mainframe programming, according to a press release.

Students worked across several months to prove their skills. The contest, which was hosted at universities and high schools around the world, required students to perform extensive programming tasks and develop applications across multiple operating systems on IBM z Systems mainframe computers. In the final stage of the challenge, they encountered real-world problems that plague professional programmers.

Edging out nearly 5,000 North American contestants, Kevin Matesi, a graduate student studying computer science at Northern Illinois University (NIU), took first prize.

“It’s always satisfying to be recognized for your hard work, but it takes it to another level when it’s an (information technology) giant like IBM,” Matesi told NIU Today.

Matesi is the third first-place winner from NIU since IBM began the Master the Mainframe contest in 2005.

Here are the top five winners for the 2014 North American competition:

  • First place: Kevin Matesi, Northern Illinois University
  • Second place: Joseph Bloom, Deerfield (Illinois) High School
  • Third place: Jeremy Krach, University of Maryland
  • Fourth place: Hongzhe (Henry) Liu, Algonquin (Massachusetts) Regional High School
  • Fifth place: Steven Hoover, Syracuse University

Winners of this year’s contest received tablet computers and flew to New York in March to be congratulated at an award ceremony at IBM’s Poughkeepsie facility.

IBM is now gearing up for its second World Championship, in 2016, to crown winners from across the globe. The first World Championship, in 2014, drew the best-of-the-best student competitors from previous Master the Mainframe competitions.

“We’re proud of the winners and all the Master the Mainframe participants,” said Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM z Systems, in the press release. “These bright young minds represent the future of the mainframe as it continues to evolve to handle the unprecedented demands of the increasingly mobile, data-intensive world. By taking up these skills, students are ensuring a strong future for enterprise computing and for themselves in the job market.”

Ryan McVay/ThinkStock