By Pat Toole
Jovanna Marquez was a Florida high school student who was contemplating a career in criminal justice when a teacher convinced her to take a computer science class and then introduced her to IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest.
It changed her life. Ms. Marquez is now studying computer science at the University of Central Florida and credits Master the Mainframe with helping her develop technical chops and find her true career path. Call it “Millennials Meet the Mainframe.” Or, “zEnterprise for Generation Z.” It’s a story about how a new generation of students are finding great career opportunities working with the IBM mainframe, which continues to advance as one of the world’s most dynamic and vital computing platforms.
What’s happening is that many organizations that already rely on the mainframe for its legendary transaction processing and data management might are moving more cloud, mobile and Big Data and analytics projects onto zEnterprise. The mainframe’s unique strengths — such as extreme scalability and rock-solid security — are proving as valuable as ever in the new era of computing. And more work for the mainframe means higher demand for mainframe skills and new opportunities for good jobs.
“We can power the next innovations,” Ms. Marquez says of her generation in this video. “I represent the new face of technology.”
Master the Mainframe allows college and high school students –more than 60,000 of them in 33 countries since 2005 –to gain mainframe experience, qualify for internships and get special access to job listings.The contest, part of IBM’s Academic Initiative, has been growing in popularity. In 2013, Master the Mainframe participation in the US and Canada grew 20 percent year over year. The 2013 contest in the US and Canada attracted more than 5,600 students — the largest turnout in North America since it began in 2005. Twenty-nine countries in the last year alone have become participants.
Given the contest’s global growth, the time has come to hold the first IBM Master the Mainframe World Championship. The first-ever Master the Mainframe world finals will take place April 6-8 in New York City.
We’re also announcing today that Kenya and South Africa will hold their first Master the Mainframe competitions in 2014. We’re especially happy to see Kenya and South Africa join because the mainframe has been experiencing new sales in emerging markets such as Africa, where governments and businesses in Cameroon, Namibia and Senegal have purchased mainframes the last couple of years.
Master the Mainframe serves as an introduction to coding and application development, and no experience with mainframes is necessary. In fact, the contest is designed for students with little or no mainframe experience, increasing with difficulty as the contest progresses.
The students get a unique introduction to the crucial role mainframes play in leading-edge technologies like cloud, Big Data and analytics, mobile and security.
And the world gets a new stream of talent to fill the important need for mainframe skills.