CSU Student Finishes Among Top 3 Students in International Mainframe Competition

Matthew Bowen, Columbus State University computer science student, recently finished among the top three students worldwide in IBM's 15th Annual Master the Mainframe Competition.

Bowen, who graduates in May, says that the accomplishment will likely help him earn a job, since many employers use the contest to seek out potential candidates for mainframe careers. As a winner of the contest, he received $1,000 and a trip to IBM's Think 2019 conference in San Francisco from which he recently returned. There he was able to network with potential employers across the globe.

The win is a huge accomplishment for Bowen, who admits that he actually had very little knowledge of mainframes prior to taking a mainframe course at CSU in the fall of 2018.

"If it weren't for taking that course and hearing from my professors that this competition exists, then I would not have entered this contest," said Bowen. "The fact that CSU still offers a lot of mainframe courses is a good way to spread notoriety of the field. The way the professors teach is very encouraging to pursue what it is that students are interested in. I can really mark it all down to my professors for getting me interested in mainframes."

IBM's Master the Mainframe Contest is a unique, virtual contest open globally to high school and college students to progressively teach mainframe skills in real world enterprise computing environments. The contest consists of three challenges and four awards. The first challenge teaches the basics of mainframe. The second provides participants with an opportunity to practice. The third includes a real-world challenge, which separates the top individuals regionally - and ultimately globally. Throughout the challenges, Bowen had to solve problems using a total of five mainframe operating systems with at least eight programming languages and several user interfaces. Mainframes are large scale computers used by large organizations, particularly in the financial and healthcare industries.

"This is equivalent to winning gold medal in a combined decathlon and heptathlon of mainframe computing," said CSU computer science professor and chair Wayne Summers.

Other CSU students successfully completing part 2 in the contest were Brandon Corn and Tyler Staut.