Two Columbus State University students, seniors Matthew Bowen and Tyler Staut, recently participated in IBM’s 15th Annual Master the Mainframe competition, pitting them against other high school and college students from around the globe.
The global, virtual competition gave students the opportunity to showcase their technological skills to potential future employers. Students competed for a variety of prizes, including gift cards, a $2,750 travel stipend and a $1,000 USD prize pack. Students were also given the opportunity to earn an Enterprise Computing Open Badge, which signals that “an individual has demonstrated their extensive programming skills and ability to develop application tasks on the z/OS platform.”
The Master the Mainframe competition is a three-part competition which gets progressively harder the further one advances. Part one gives students an introduction to the mainframe to allow them to “become familiar with the user interface, basic concepts, and data structures.” Part two allows students to “learn and develop on the mainframe using program commands, programming languages, and get familiar with the z/OS platform.” Part three puts students into real-world scenarios, allowing them to showcase their ability to solve challenges that are faced by experienced mainframe programmers.
Tyler Staut successfully completed parts one and two in the competition.
Matthew Bowen displayed his impressive knowledge of mainframe systems in the competition, finishing all three parts which earned him a top three placement worldwide among all students who competed. Two winners were selected from each region, and then three “global” winners were selected from that group. As a prize for his performance, he received a $1,000 token and a trip to IBM’s Think 2019 conference in San Francisco which allowed him the opportunity to network with many of the industry’s biggest names. The conference featured many notable speakers including IBM CEO, President, and Chairwoman Ginni Rometty, former Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Montana, and the CEO of AT&T Communications John Donovan.
Bowen “admits that he actually had very little knowledge of mainframes prior to taking a mainframe course at CSU in the fall of 2018. If it weren’t for taking that course and hearing from my professors that this competition exists, then I would not have entered this contest,” said Bowen, according to Columbus State University.