This is not your father's mainframe. As the mighty mainframe celebrates 50 years in existence, it's more powerful and reliable than ever. It's estimated that there are more mainframe transactions on CICS every second than there are Google searches every second. Bottom line: the mainframe is not only still relevant, but a powerhouse that drives e-commerce, banking transactions, retail purchases and travel plans (to name just a few.) Today, IBM is extending their mainframe efforts by announcing a new competition designed to develop the skills of a new generation of mainframe experts. Having mainframe skills in today's fast moving global economy is an important skill to have.

Today IBM expands their Master the Mainframe Contest to include the first-ever IBM Master the Mainframe World Championship competition.

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The Championship is designed to bring together the best university students from around the globe who have demonstrated superior technical skills through participation in their regional IBM Master the Mainframe Contests. From the 20,000 students who have engaged in country-level Master the Mainframe Contests over the last three years, the top 44 students from 22 countries have been invited to participate in the inaugural IBM Master the Mainframe World Championship. This innovative group of students will spend the month of March entrenched in the Systems of Engagement concept. They will deploy Systems of Record mainframe business applications written with Java and COBOL using DB2 for z/OS API's, demonstrating how the Systems of Engagement concept takes full advantage of the platform's superior capabilities. These students will showcase their applications on April 7, 2014 in New York City where a distinguished panel of judges will determine which student earns the distinction of "Master the Mainframe World Champion."

Why is the competition important to students? The competition sharpens skills and helps students network. Most importantly, the Master the Mainframe contest lets students gain real-life mainframe experience, get first dibs at internships, and obtain access to IBM corporate job boards. It also provides a steady stream of talented newcomers to fill the constant demand for Big Iron-related jobs like software development, data center management, and security.

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"The Master the Mainframe Contest is a great way to get the millennial generation excited about enterprise computing," said Martin Kennedy, managing director, global enterprise systems, Citi. "I've been following the contest for a number of years and have made successful hires from both IBM's Master the Mainframe Contest as well as their System z Academic Initiative program. I envision a World Championship such as this generating momentum in academia and making educators take a second look at the mainframe in enterprise computing."

To kick-off the World Championship, IBM has launched the Master the Mainframe World Championship website. The site profiles each student and provides a leaderboard so fans can follow their favorite contestant, school and country. In addition to the contestant's information, the website highlights the judges, who represent a cross section of the IT industry, and who are participating in the April 7th final championship event. Check the website on these dates for more information:

Challenge Series: March 10 - April 4, 2014

Finale: April 7, 2014 in New York City

Winners announced: April 8, 2014

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For more information on IBM's Master the Mainframe, Master the Mainframe World Championship, and System z Academic Initiative please visit: www.ibm.com/systems/z/masterthemainframe.