IBM today announced a record 8,100 high school and college students around the world competed in IBM’s 2014 Master the Mainframe contest, helping equip the IT leaders of tomorrow with the skills needed for the mobile economy.
Hosted at high schools and colleges around the world, Master the Mainframe – part of the IBM’s Academic Initiative– serves as an introduction to programming and application development and requires no previous mainframe experience. These programming skills are becoming increasingly important with the explosive growth in mobile transactions, creating even greater demands on company IT systems to quickly and reliably interact with consumers.
“We’re proud of the winners and all the Master the Mainframe participants,” said Ross Mauri, general manager, IBM z Systems. “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.”
As students complete each part of the Master the Mainframe contest, judges evaluate their results and reward those who move on to the next step. Each phase becomes more difficult, beginning with basic mainframe navigation to finishing a project that tackles a real-world business scenario.
This year’s contest drew the largest turnout since the contest’s inception in 2005. “Master the Mainframe” started in the United States and Canada but has expanded to almost 40 countries on six continents. A total of 74,000 students worldwide have competed in the past 10 years. In 2016, the contest will holds its second World Championship, crowning global winners.
IBM announced this year’s U.S. and Canada winners among nearly 5,000 North American contestants:
First Place: Kevin Matesi, Northern Illinois University
Kevin is a second-year graduate student at Northern Illinois University and plans to graduate in May. His areas of focus are enterprise computing and databases, and he is searching for a career that affords him the opportunity to work with mainframes and/or databases.
Second Place: Joseph Bloom, Deerfield (Illinois) High School
Joseph is a senior at Deerfield High School. Next year, he plans to study computer science at a university to be determined. When he’s not at a computer, he plays trombone in the school band.
Third Place: Jeremy Krach, University of Maryland
Jeremy is a sophomore in computer science at the University of Maryland and is a member of the nation’s first cybersecurity honors college, Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students. Upon graduating in 2017, he plans a career in software engineering and cybersecurity.
Fourth Place: Hongzhe (Henry) Liu, Algonquin (Massachusetts) Regional High School
Henry will graduate in 2016 and plans on studying artificial intelligence in college.
Fifth Place: Steven Hoover, Syracuse University
Steven is a graduate student studying information management at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies.
The winners will receive a new tablet computer and an expenses-paid trip to New York for a March 24 awards ceremony and tour of IBM labs in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. IBM guest speakers at the ceremony will include Ross Mauri, general manager, IBM z Systems, and Maria Boonie, vice president, IBM z Systems Operating Systems & Firmware Development.
Master the Mainframe marks its 10th year at a time when the IBM mainframe remains a linchpin of enterprise computing, relied on by 92 of the top 100 worldwide banks, every one of the 10 largest insurers, 23 of the largest 25 airlines and six of the 10 top global retailers. 
In March, IBM began shipping the z13, the most powerful and secure mainframe to date, designed to work at unprecedented scale to handle the growth in mobile transactions. One z13 can perform 30,000 transactions per second or 2.5 billion transactions per day.