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Student Places Second in IBM’s ‘Master the Mainframe’ Contest

July 2, 2013

  National Winner: Benjamin Paul’s name appears on IBM’s Wall of Fame after placing second in the Master the Mainframe Contest.

Rose-Hulman senior Benjamin Paul showcased his computer programming skills by placing second in IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest, an annual competition testing the information technology skills of more than 4,600 college and high school students from throughout the United States and Canada.

Paul, who is majoring in software engineering, computer engineering, and computer science, was recognized at IBM’s mainframe laboratory in Poughkeepsie, New York, met key IBM executives and distinguished engineers, and received a 32GB Asus Transformer Pad Infinity Android-based tablet computer with Wi-Fi connectivity. His name also appears on IBM’s prestigious Wall of Fame.

“Benjamin had a most impressive display of mainframe skills,” says Michael Todd, team leader of the IBM Master the Mainframe contest. “The fantastic turnout by students and difficult challenges set by our IBM technical experts made this our toughest contest yet.”

The three-part contest serves as an introduction to programming and application development and requires no initial mainframe experience. As students complete each part of the contest, judges evaluate their results and reward those who move on to the next step. Each phase gets considerably harder, beginning with basic mainframe navigation to completing a project that tackles a real-world business scenario.

Paul needed just 10 minutes to complete all of the first part problems; placed first in the second part by correctly solving every problem; and had few concerns with the 20 database tasks posed in the final part.

“I like to learn new things and find out how things work,” says the Prospect, Kentucky native. “The IBM contest provided good experience in a variety of IT fields, including mainframe, which will be very helpful in my career.”

Paul is gaining further experience this summer as a senior undergraduate technical intern for Rockwell Collins’ government display systems division.

According to the 2012 IBM Tech Trend Report, as business demand for emerging technologies rise, enterprises are facing an increased IT skills shortage. IBM’s Enterprise Systems Education Program has been working closely with academic institutions worldwide to educate and encourage students to enter the enterprise systems field. IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest provides educators with an interesting way to increase enrollment and reinforce the skills their students are learning in these new programs.