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IBM's Master the Mainframe Programming Contest and Scholarship Awards

Overview of the Master the Mainframe Contest

Today's mainframes are growing in popularity and require a new generation of mainframe experts. Every year since 2005, IBM has held a "big iron" Master the Mainframe programming contest, which is designed to equip students with basic skills to make them more competitive for jobs in the enterprise computing industry. The major focus of the contest is to introduce students to an area of the computer field that they may not have had much experience with, and which is currently in a long-term hiring phase. IBM designed the contest to be no experience necessary.

Prizes include such items as Google Nexus 10 tablet computers; Master the Mainframe swag including hoodies, messenger bags and more; trips to the mainframe lab in Poughkeepsie, NY; and custom Master the Mainframe T-shirts. Additionally, all Part 2 and Part 3 winners are entered into the IBM Student Opportunity System, a registry of talented students, which is open to companies who want to hire recent college graduates.

Registration usually opens for the USA and Canada (excluding Quebec) in early September, and results are announced in February of the following year. The NIU faculty sponsors are Professors Amy Byrnes, Georgia Brown, and Geoffrey Decker.


Steven Perva, B.S 2010:

I recently received an e-mail in my personal mail from the Computer Science undergraduate mailing list regarding the IBM Master the Mainframe contest and wanted to comment on what an opportunity this is for students. Not only does the contest give participants experience working with the mainframe, but it also gives them a chance to win cool prizes and get their names noticed by some important people at IBM. I participated in the contest during my senior year at Northern Illinois and was one of the fastest to complete Part 2 100% correctly. I was able to add my resume to a searchable database and it led to being hired here at IBM/Poughkeepsie, New York, where I work as a Systems Programmer for z/OS Systems supporting Hardware Test. During my interviews before graduation, it was also a major discussion point on my resume and a point of interest to many companies outside of IBM.

I applaud NIU for continuing to gather participants for this contest and I wanted to send a real-life anecdote to show what could happen to those who participate. It has definitely changed my life.

2014 Results: Kevin Matesi Wins First Place!

Out of 4,900 U.S. and Canada competitors, we had the following statistical results:

  • Part 3 First Place Winner, out of 4,900 entries! (No other Illinois public university Winners.)
  • Part 3 Honorable Mentions: Two of the 50 Part 3 Honorable Mentions. (No other Illinois public universities had any Part 3 Honorable Mentions.)
  • Part 2 Prize Winners: Four Prize Winners out of the 75 Prize Winners. (Only two other Illinois pulic university Winners.)
  • Part 2 Finishers: 29 NIU Finishers of the 313 Finishers. (Only one other Finisher from Illinois public universities.)

We are proud to announce the following NIU winners (see here for complete contest results ):

Part 3 Winner:

  • 1st Place: Kevin Matesi

Part 3 Honorable Mentions

  • Sean Vogel
  • John Zhao

Part 2 Prize Winners

  • Mark Abermoske
  • Eric Grandt
  • Kevin Matesi
  • John Zhao

Part 2 Finishers

  • Sarmad Al Najar
  • Praneeth Alla
  • Vikram Alle
  • Charles Baumann
  • William Dammeier
  • Venkata Bhanu Pradeep Devabhaktuni
  • Robert Durham
  • Alex Ekstrom
  • Sindhuja Reddy Gundreddy
  • Vishwanath Gurrapu
  • Cody Hammond -Nitish Kamagiri
  • Sainath Reddy Katta
  • Ashwini Kodati
  • Nitin Kotcherlakota
  • Matthew Leon
  • Ralph Loizzo
  • Sneha Manthani
  • Agnieszka Misiak
  • Vamshi Krishna Nagilla
  • Vegesna Narasimha pavan Varma
  • Naga Praveen Kumar Pendyala
  • Sharath Chandra Pittampally
  • Sri Padmaharini Raghunathan
  • Akash Shah
  • Praneeth Reddy Vanteru
  • Doddi Vineel
  • Sean Vogel
  • Ahmer Waseem

2013 Results

We are proud to announce that we had the 5th place winner, two Part 3 Honorable Mention, and ten Part 2 winners in IBM's Master the Mainframe contest:

Final (Part 3) Winner:

Congratulations to Mark Abermoske, who won 5th place out of 5,601 entries!

Part 3 Honorable Mention Winners:

These winners turned in exceptional Part 3 performances, finished in the top 1% of all registered students, and were two of the three Honorable Mention Winners from all public universities in the State of Illinois:

  • Grant Blassick
  • Kevin Matesi

Part 2 Winners:

  • Mark Abermoske
  • Peter Bernacki
  • Grant Blassick (prize winner!)
  • Kevin Haracz
  • Robert Harmon
  • John Lathrop
  • Kevin Matesi
  • Wisam Mohammed
  • Jason Mossburg
  • Nathan Roberts

Here's what the IBM site says:

The 2013 IBM Master the Mainframe Contest drew over 5,000 students from across the US and Canada, making this contest our biggest ever. The fantastic turnout and difficult challenges also made this our toughest contest yet.

The IBM Master the Mainframe Contest team would like to give special recognition to the students who managed to complete the extremely difficult Part 2 challenges. After many hours of debugging, programming, and learning to navigate a world-class enterprise system, including hands-on experience with four different operating systems (z/OS, Linux on System z, z/VM and z/TPF) all of the students below have distinguished themselves as extraordinary mainframers.

All students on the Wall of Fame have earned a certificate of completion from IBM to commemorate their achievements in Part 2. The students with "(prize winner!)" after their names also won a Part 2 Prize Pack (see a full description on our Details page) for being among the 75 fastest students to complete Part 2 100% correctly.

2012 Results

We are proud to announce that we had one Part 3 Honorable Mention and seven Part 2 winners in IBM's Master the Mainframe contest (out of a total of eight Part 2 winners from all public universities in the State of Illinois):

Part 3 Honorable mention: Jie Hou

Part 2 Winners:

  • Yasser Al Khatib>
  • John Doyle
  • Joshua Kurtenbach
  • Jacob Mackenzie
  • Subashree Ramachandran (prize winner!)
  • Michelle Strachan (prize winner!)

2011 Results

Out of the 3,400 students in North America who competed, 175 completed Part II successfully. Eleven of them were NIU students! All eleven students qualified for the Part III final round, with four of them winning a $100 gift certificate for finishing rapidly:

  • Zaid Alattar
  • Maria Gabriela Cervantes
  • Kevin Hamilton
  • Michael Keller
  • Sarah Mackenzie ($100 winner!)
  • Nikhil Madhusudan
  • Subashree Ramachandran ($100 winner!)
  • Timothy Rogis
  • Joseph Spinelli ($100 winner!)
  • Zachary Srog
  • Chi Zhang ($100 winner!)

2010 Results

The 2010 IBM Master the Mainframe Contest drew 3,537 students from over 400 schools across the US and Canada.

Part 3 Honorable Mention Winners:

  • Joe Spinelli
  • Chi Zhang

Part 2 Winners:

An additional 13 students were Part 2 winners, including three students who won pre-paid $100 debit cards for being among the 60 fastest students to complete Part 2 100% correctly:

  • Ashvini Krishna Ayyasamy
  • Bonnie Derylo
  • Santosh Kumar Domalapalli
  • Sarah Mackenzie ($100 winner!)
  • Anthony Mueller ($100 winner!)
  • Nicholas Nagrodski
  • Kalaneeraj Poojari
  • Timothy Rogis
  • Andrew Schmidgall
  • Haider Thahab
  • Michael Warren ($100 winner!)
  • Kevin Willert
  • Ryan Wisniewski

See http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/university/students/contests/mainframe/index.html > "Contest Overview" and "Wall of Fame" for the complete list of winners. Note that there were no Part 3 winners and only five Part 2 winners from all of the other Illinois public universities combined.

2009 Results

Part 3 Honorable Mention:

  • Sandeep Perumbuduri

Part 2 Winners:

An additional six students were Part 2 winners, including  three students who won pre-paid $100 debit cards for being among the fastest students to complete Part 2 100% correctly:

  • Christopher Barber ($100 winner!) B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science, currently a graduate student in the College of Business
  • Michelle Bouxsein
  • Carolyn Dick
  • Brandon Haugen
  • Anthony Mueller ($100 winner!)
  • Steven Perva ($100 winner!)

See https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/university/students/contests/mainframe/2009/ for the complete list of winners.

2008 Results

First Place: Bryan Weaver

Part 2 Winners (out of 60 winners):

  • Brandon Haugen
  • Genn Reschke

Part 2 Honorable Mention:

  • Christopher Barber
  • Abhijit Karwa
  • Nicholas Nagrodski

See http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/university/students/contests/mainframe/2008/ for a list of all of the winners.

2007 Results

Part 2 Winners:

  • James Bailey
  • Ashwin Mantri
  • Chris Pabian
  • Tim Pinkawa
  • Dan Varga
  • John Yednock

There was a total of only 2 other winners from the entirety of public universities in the State of Illinois. See http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/university/students/contests/mainframe/2007/ for a list of all of the winners.

2005 Results

In the very first contest in 2005, NIU Computer Science undergraduate Jason Arnold was one of three first place winners.>

IBM Destination Z Enterprise Computing Scholarship

To be considered for this scholarship, students must have demonstrated excellence in their enterprise computing coursework, with plans for continued growth on the mainframe platform in their academic and professional careers. Recipients are chosen from among IBM's Master the Mainframe finalists (see below).

2013 Winners

We are proud to announce that four of the twelve 2013 winners were our students:

  • Mark Abermoske (the featured student on IBM's Destination Z webpage)
  • Jason Mossburg
  • Peter Bernacki
  • John Lathrop

Please see IBM's Destination Z webpage for further information.

2012 Winners

The Department of Computer Science would like to offer congratulations to NIU graduate students Subashree Ramachandran (repeat winner from 2011) and Jie Hou, who won two of the ten scholarships awarded in the U.S.

2011 Winner

The Department of Computer Science would like to offer congratulations to Subashree Ramachandran, graduate student and winner of a $2,000 scholarship from IBM. Of the twelve scholarships awarded, Subashree's was the second highest award amount.