UNSW student solves IBM mainframe challenge

Scores Apple accessories, misses out on T-shirt

University of New South Wales undergraduate Derrick Teo has taken out the winning prize for IBM's 2010 Master the Mainframe, beating approximately 460 university students across Australia.

The annual competition, held for the third time this year, was designed to familiarise students with concepts regarding the large enterprise computing industry and build modern mainframe skills among students.

Contestants were provided with remote access to the contest mainframe server and were tested for their technical, problem-solving and collaboration skills in real-life enterprise computing tasks.

Teo told Computerworld Australia the tasks were “pretty straightforward”, but said the challenge was in carrying out the tasks on the mainframe itself.

"I've always been interested in the technology driving enterprise systems and the contest was a rare opportunity for me to experience working on a mainframe,” the computer science honours student said.

“I particularly enjoyed integrating WebSphere MQ, DB2 and other elements of z/OS into a useful web application under CICS at stage three as it was the most challenging part of the contest."

Teo will graduate next year and has ambitions to become a software engineer.

“I think the competition was a really rare opportunity to gain experience with mainframes because mainframes are not something generally available for [students] to work on and to get experience with.”

IBM Australia chief technologist, Glenn Wightwick, said he was impressed by the high calibre of students across Australia.

According to Teo, universities that have mainframe courses are in the minority, so the contest offered a “unique” perspective on how different working on a mainframe can be.

Teo received prizes for both the second and third parts of the challenge, taking home an iPod shuffle and an iPad. He missed out on the T-shirt prize awarded to the first 100 qualifiers of the first round.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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