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Sharing the Platform With Students

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:35 PM


At SHARE in Providence, students will have a day devoted to them. Tuesday, Aug. 8, will be full of activities aimed at the next generation of mainframers. SHARE, the IBM Academic Initiative and Rocket Software will host them, offering opportunities like a Master the Mainframe hack-athon, educational sessions, panels talking about internships and beginning a career, early access to the expo, meeting IBM developers and more.

SHARE has been making an ever-increasing effort to engage both faculty and students as part of its stewardship of the enterprise IT ecosystem. Recently, the user group created a new affiliate program for universities, faculty and students to gain a membership level for access to its archives and engage with peers and mentors.  One part of that stewardship is sponsoring a student career day for students to see the possibilities available to them, should they become involved.

It is good fit with the Academic Initiative and Rocket, who both already have a presence at SHARE events and focus on exposing young talent to the mainframe. “Devoting one day during SHARE Providence to students allows the IBM Academic Initiative the opportunity to expand students’ horizons and see the possibilities of what becoming a mainframer would mean to them,” says Troy Crutcher, Master the Mainframe program manager, IBM Academic Initiative.

Azeem Ahmed, managing director of Data and Analytic, Rocket, shared similar thoughts: “This is an opportunity for students to actually kick the tires and use a mainframe for the first time. And the more that young people know about mainframes, the more value these systems have to organizations that use them. These kinds of career events are critical because they expose a new generation of students and recent graduates to this amazing platform.”

During the hack-athon, students will be able to dive in and try challenges on the z Systems platform similar to those used in the Master the Mainframe contest. With each completed challenge, students will earn points toward prizes, including an Oculus Rift and a Raspberry Pi. Experts will be on site to help navigate the hack-athon.

“We encourage any student to attend, not just computer science majors,” Crutcher says, noting that “there are so many different sides to enterprise computing that range from computer science, to business to marketing. The possibilities are endless.”

Harry Williams, SHARE president, says the goal is to expose students to the platform and gain excitement for all it can do. “Hopefully, they will recognize that the term ‘legacy’ when applied to mainframes isn’t outdated technology, but a gift of value handed down from previous generations that support the newest trends including DevOps and mobile.”

SHARE attendees are encouraged to interact with the students. “If you see the students at SHARE, say hi,” Williams says. “Walking into a large event can be intimidating, and seeing friendly faces and a quick hi is helpful. Introduce yourself and ask them how their day is going. SHARE is a community of IT users and want everyone to feel welcome.”

The Career Day is an opportunity for students looking to learn more about and be exposed to the mainframe. Ahmed points to retirement and attrition predictions for the next five years that cite a shortage of IBM z workers in the near future.  “We need new blood in the mainframe world, and organizations like SHARE and companies like IBM and Rocket are leading the way in making this shift happen.”

Learn more about Student Career Day and sign up for no-cost registration today with code SCD17.

Valerie Dennis is site editor of Destination z.