On 28 August 2012, IBM introduced its most powerful, scalable and energy-efficient mainframe server ever, the IBM zEnterprise EC12, the result of over one billion dollars of research and development. This machine sports the world’s fastest microprocessor, running at 5.5Ghz. It is also the only commercial server to achieve Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 5+ security classification. Cool? Cool.
What’s even cooler is mainframe computers play a central role in the daily operations of most of the world’s largest corporations, including many Fortune 1000 companies. While other forms of computing are used extensively in business in various capacities, the mainframe occupies a coveted place in today’s IT environment. In banking, finance, health care, insurance, utilities, government, and a multitude of other public and private enterprises, the mainframe computer continues to form the foundation of modern business.
Companies are actively recruiting students with mainframe knowledge and skills. Adding the AITP NCC Enterprise Systems Challenge on your resume will most certainly make you a more attractive IT candidate.
So, who uses mainframe? Just about everyone has used a mainframe computer at one point or another. If you ever used an automated teller machine (ATM) to interact with your bank account, you can, most definitely, count yourself in.
So, are you ready to unleash the power of the world’s most secure and faster microprocessor? No experience is necessary to compete. Having some basic programming knowledge (for example, C/C++, Java, etc.) is recommended. Having some knowledge of COBOL and/or Rexx is helpful, but not necessary to compete and do well in this contest. We invite you to compete in the first Enterprise Systems challenge. We’re pretty sure you’ll be glad you did!
To find out a little bit more about what makes a mainframe system unique, check out these resources:
- Mainframes and Clouds (Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s blog)
- I.B.M. Mainframe Evolves to Serve the Digital World (New York Times)
- IBM’s zEnterprise architecture makes mainframe cool again, also efficient (Engadget)
ALL CONTESTS (except for PC Troubleshooting) FOR 2013 WILL SUPPORT ONLY ONE-TWO (1-2) PERSON TEAMS.
ALL CONTESTS FOR 2013 WILL SUPPORT ONE (1) LAPTOP PER PERSON.
Note: Only one mainframe user id will be assigned per team. If you choose to participate on a two person team, only one laptop will be able to log in to the mainframe at a time. The other laptop can be used for research or browsing.
Friday, April 5, 2013 from 09:30am – 1pm.
- Registration will occur between 9:00am – 9:30am
- The problem statement will be made available at 09:30am after all teams have been checked in
- The contest will end promptly at 1pm.
No experience with mainframes is necessary. Having some basic programming knowledge (for example, C/C++, Java, etc.) is recommended. Having some knowledge of COBOL and/or Rexx is also helpful, but not necessary to compete and do well in this contest. These challenges are designed for students with little or no mainframe experience. Students just need to bring drive and a competitive spirit.
Registering and preparing to connect to the system – you can perform these activities (registration, download and install an emulator, connect to the mainframe) prior to the competition or on the day competition (prior to the contest start), it’s your choice!
Registration – You can register now or on the day of the competition. However, students who pre-register (prior to March 29, 2013) will become eligible to win a prize package of IBM swag! A winner will be selected by random drawing from among all pre-registered students.
To pre-register, send an e-mail to email@example.com with the following information.
Subject line: Pre-register for the AITP NCC Enterprise Systems Challenge
Message body: I would like to pre-register for the AITP NCC Enterprise Systems Challenge. Include the following information.
Identify team type (one person or two persons):
First and Last name of student #1:
First and Last name of student #2 (if applicable):
Student #1 email:
Student #2 email (if applicable):
Note: You will receive further instructions at the AITP NCC contest check-in station.
This competition is based on the successful completion of selected challenges. Your competition package will contain a list of challenges (and challenge descriptions) you can choose from. That’s right, you choose which contest challenges you’d like to tackle. You can select the challenges that involve programming activities and languages you are familiar with and skip the ones you don’t know as much about. Each challenge will have a point value associated with it. Full points will successful completion. Partial points may be awarded for incorrect or incomplete challenges.
During each challenge, you will be instructed on how to save your program output to a data set (mainframe-speak for folder or directory). IBM will be responsible for viewing and grading each team’s output data set.
- Program challenges will be assigned a point value for successful completion (the point value will be documented in the competition package).
- Full points will be awarded for successful completion including correct output.
- Incorrect or incomplete challenges will receive a lesser point value (depending on challenge completion)
- In the event of a tie (same number of total points received), then time finished will determine the winner. If the time finished results in a tie, then a grade will be given based on clean coding and documented comments in the source code.
Tips & Miscellaneous
Remember, no experience is necessary to compete in the AITP NCC Enterprise Systems Challenge, and we mean that! Having some basic programming knowledge (For example, C/C++, Java, etc.) is recommended. Having some knowledge of COBOL and/or Rexx is helpful, but not necessary to compete and do well in this contest.
Sponsored by IBM
The IBM team will be available by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) prior to the challenge and will be on site during the competition to help with logon, emulator, connection, and technical questions you may have.
2003 COBOL Problem Statement & Solution