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iSchool student Bin Sun G'10 places in international IBM mainframe competition

Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) student Bin Sun G’10 won fourth place in IBM Master of the Mainframe competition, sponsored by IBM Academic Initiative System z. The annual competition is designed to familiarize students with concepts for the growing large enterprise computing industry and build mainframe skills, enabling them to become the business and IT leaders of tomorrow.

Sun, a student in the iSchool’s M.S. in information management program, competed against 1,876 students from 315 colleges across the United States and Canada in three-part, increasingly difficult challenges. The competition culminated with a sliding tile puzzle that the students had to solve programmatically using JAVA, C++, REXX, and assembler.

Sun learned about the competition in IST 555 Enterprise Technology and he says he’s grateful for the encouragement and support from iSchool professor Doug Taber. Sun says he was able to navigate the challenges by calling on a variety of resources, including his knowledge from iSchool and undergraduate courses, web-based documents about mainframes, books, and online forums.

“My software engineering background gave me an edge in the final phase, which involved a lot of programming,” he says. “I didn’t know how many other students were involved in the contest, so I just focused on the problems, tried my best, and hoped for the best.”

Sun won a series of prizes as he advanced through the three rounds—a Master the Mainframe T-shirt with 900 other top competitors, $100 pre-paid debit card with 60 others who successfully completed the second challenge, and an MSI Wind Netbook computer with four others who placed in the top five in the competition.

“Mainframe is known for its zero downtime and that it is widely used in many performance critical industries,” Sun says. “I think it is beneficial for iSchool students to get exposed this technology and develop skills in this area, where a new generation of experts are very welcomed.”

About Master the Mainframe Contest
In 2008, more than 1,876 students from 325 schools across the U.S. and Canada competed in the Master the Mainframe Contest, marking the largest turnout ever. To support the strong student interest, IBM provided access to the most current IBM System z10 mainframe hosted at the IBM Innovation Center in Dallas, TX. Student contestants accessed the same high performance computing resources that IBM's worldwide independent software vendors currently use to port and maintain their business applications for top clients. 

Since its inception in 2005, the IBM student mainframe contests have attracted more than 14,000 student entries for thousands of prizes consisting of XBox 360s, Nintendo Wiis, iPods, pre-paid debit cards, trips to mainframe plants, etc.

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