Pictured above from left to right: Henry Liu, Joseph Bloom, Jeremy Kracht, Kevin Matesi, Steven Hoover
Concerns over the possibility of a mainframe skills gap will in part be quelled with the news that IBM saw a record number of competitors in this year's Master the Mainframe contest.
More than 8,000 high school and college students entered the competition, according to IBM. Worldwide, 74,000 students have participated in Master the Mainframe since it launched a decade ago.
The competition, which is part of the z Systems Academic Initiative, helps foster programming and application development skills in both beginning and advanced students.
“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," said Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM z Systems, in a statement. "By taking up these skills, students are ensuring a strong future for enterprise computing and for themselves in the job market.”
In the first rounds of the contest, students tackle basic mainframe navigation before advancing to more rigorous activities in later rounds. The competition culminates with a project that incorporates a realistic business challenge.
Although Master the Mainframe originally launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2005, students now enter from nearly 40 countries on six continents. Last year, IBM held its first World Championship in conjunction with the mainframe's 50th anniversary. The next world championship will be held in 2016.
This year's U.S. and Canada winners were:
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
SHARE does its part to nurture young talent through its zNextGen initiative, which provides an opportunity for networking, peer-to-peer learning and mentorship. More than 1,000 members from 24 countries discuss challenges and exchange resources in this lively community. For more information, visit http://www.share.org/znextgen.