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This was the most successful year yet for the world’s largest mainframe competition for students. See who took top honors!


What do you get when you cross IBM Z technology, education, and 25,000 students? Master the Mainframe, of course!

Record-setting momentum for mainframe skills

2019 marked the 15th year of the world’s largest mainframe competition for students — and it was our biggest year yet. This year’s contest saw registrations grow to 25,516 participants — up 40% from 18,175 in 2018 — and participation from almost 4,000 schools. We also experienced a 123% increase in the number of students finishing all three parts since last year. New for 2019, we made a donation through #ShareTheMeal to the UN World Food Programme for every student finishing Part 1, which resulted in 7,032 children being fed for a day.

The contest drew participants from 154 total countries, up 37.5% from last year, with India, the United States, Brazil, the UK, Nigeria, Germany, Canada, and Argentina topping the list. The strong global participation in the contest confirms that students are increasingly intrigued by the technology and the significant role the mainframe plays as the IT backbone of 60 percent of the Fortune 100, 44 of the top 50 banks, 8 out of the top 10 insurers, and 8 of the top 10 telcos.

We’re pleased to congratulate this year’s winners:

Grand Prize winners:

  • Mark Budavari, University of Szeged (Hungary)
  • Takao Kaburaki, Hosei University (Japan)
  • Yen-Chang Pan, Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Regional winners:

  • Gonzalo Hemadi, Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (Argentina)
  • Yuto Isogami, Waseda University (Japan)
  • Georges Kopp, OpenClassrooms (France)
  • Kaitlyn Lowe, Canyons Technical Education Center (United States)
  • Pacome Simon Mbonimpa, University of Rwanda (Rwanda)
  • Christos Polemenakos, University of Dallas (United States)
  • Avishek Sen, Sudhir Memorial Institute (India)
  • Divyanshu Singh, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (India)
  • Brian Zhou, Université M’Hamed Bougara De Boumerdès (Algeria)

Master the Mainframe contest winners

The Master the Mainframe initiative helps develop mainframe skills as a path to both traditional and emerging technologies to not only drive careers today, but also to prepare the next generation for the jobs of the future.

In August 2019, an IBM-commissioned Forrester study found that institutions do a good job of connecting students with job opportunities, but don’t always prepare them for highly rewarding careers in enterprise computing. Master the Mainframe helps fill this gap by providing an opportunity for high school and university students to build these skills. In addition, the survey found that on average enterprise computing careers offered higher salaries, better work-life balance, and a greater ability to make a social impact than other computing roles.

To help match this new talent with available jobs, the IBM Talent Match service is available to directly connect employers with demonstrated mainframe talent. Employers simply register with the Talent Match service to find ideal candidates by skills, verified IBM digital credentials, or location, and then review and connect with potential candidates after viewing their profiles and social media links.

Rules of the game

Run by AngelHack, a female-owned, female-majority company with a developer community of 150,000, Master the Mainframe is sponsored by the IBM Z Academic Initiative, which provides mainframe education and resources to students and educators around the world. By participating, students learn, prepare for careers, and get an opportunity to win prizes.

In this contest, students are introduced to the enterprise systems behind their smartphone apps and gain hands-on experience designed to inspire interest in pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Master the Mainframe is an introduction to programming and application development competition designed to teach students how to code and build new innovations using the mainframe through three phases of competition. To celebrate this milestone year, Master the Mainframe launched new challenges, tutorials, and a new online community.

Master the Mainframe is a three-round, challenge-based contest with increasingly difficult programming assignments that move from basic engagement with the mainframe to writing a program that solves a real-world problem using multiple programming languages. This year, we challenged contestants to create a system utility that generates point-in-time system activity reports. They were challenged to not only create the utility, but to also think about what types of analytics would be useful in a production environment. The winners demonstrated their ability to generate reports that would be valuable in a real-world situation using the concepts and languages they learned in Parts 1 and 2 of the contest.

Learn more about the IBM Z Academic Initiative and the Master the Mainframe contest.

Meredith Stowell (IBM)
Sabeen Ali (AngelHack)