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Overview for Educators

The z Systems Academic Initiative holds regional IBM Master the Mainframe contests all over the world. No previous experience is required, and many students engage with enterprise computing skills for the very first time through this competition.

Students who compete in regional Master the Mainframe contests also have the opportunity to qualify for an invitation to compete in the IBM Master the Mainframe World Championship. Through the z Systems Academic Initiative, IBM has worked with students, professors, businesses and universities to provide mainframe training and curriculum resources to students at over 1,000 schools in 70 countries. The program also sponsors the Master the Mainframe Contest, which has drawn over 74,000 contestants since its inception in 2005.

The IBM z Systems Academic Initiative has evolved alongside the technology it supports. As the business community advances enterprise computing - Big Data, Analytics, Cloud and Mobile - new skills will be required from the workforce. To help the new generation of students learning on the mainframe, IBM works with professors and academic institutions to reshape curriculum and teachings.

Benefits for your school and faculty

Professors who are enrolled in the IBM z Systems Academic Initiative gain access to the newest mainframe systems and enterprise computing software, exposing students to the future skills required in enterprise computing. Students who compete in the IBM Master the Mainframe Contest get unprecedented exposure to a wide variety of enterprise systems, software, and products.

After schools join the IBM z Systems Academic Initiative some of the many program benefits include: free access to IBM software, courseware, online training, discounts on conferences, IBM certifications, and classroom training. Schools are also granted access to a mainframe system for the educator and students at no charge.

How to get involved

Ready to join? Membership in the IBM Academic Initiative program is available at no charge. Faculty members, research professionals at accredited institutions, and IBM employees whose work supports the Academic Initiative can join. Follow these easy steps to register with the IBM z Systems Academic Initiative:

  1. Go to the IBM Academic Initiative membership page and follow the instructions.
  2. When asked to specify the IBM technology you currently use or plan to teach in your courses or research, select z Systems software and/or hardware.

After you complete those steps your students can use your name as their sponsoring professor when they register for an IBM mainframe contest.

Contact IBM

Students, educators, parents, or organizations looking to get involved in Master the Mainframe, please contact us.


Infrastructure matters. Businesses turn to the IBM mainframe for unmatched security, operational efficiency, speed, seamless scale, and lower cost per transaction. The IBM z Systems, the world’s premier data and transaction engine, is enabled for mobile, integrates transactions and analytics, and delivers efficient and trusted clouds.

Operating Systems

IBM z Systems servers are supported by a multitude of operating systems, such as z/OS, z/VSE, z/TPF, Linux on z Systems and the z/VM hypervisor.


IBM z Systems combine leading-edge innovation and unparalleled capabilities to power cloud, business analytics, mobile applications, and the most important workloads.

Additional resources

2014 Master the Mainframe World Championship highlights

IBM z Systems Job Connector

See or post your own z Systems job opportunities

Schools and faculty speak

"Master the Mainframe is one facet of our program that helps to excite students about enterprise computing. Since WTAMU Computer Science students have been competing for several years (with great success), new students are eager to see if they can outdo those who have gone before them. A first, a second and two third place finishes in the contest (as well as many in the top 1%) is a great legacy and motivator for our incoming students. And, recruiters are really keen on those who compete and do well."

Paul Haiduk,
Computer Science Program Coordinator
West Texas A&M University

"Master the Mainframe is by far the best tool I have seen for introducing students to z Systems. The exercises are step-by-step, and increasingly engaging. This is some of the finest educational material I have seen for learning complex technology."

Cameron Seay,
NC A&T State University

"The IBM Master the Mainframe contest not only excites our undergraduates and but it challenges and expands the knowledge of the working professionals in our on line z/OS classes."

Angelo Corridori,
Director of Enterprise Computing Education
Marist College

"Master the Mainframe is an effective, fun and engaging way to get students exposed to the world and opportunities of Enterprise Computing."

José A. Cruz, Ph.D.,
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

My Mainframe career begins now!

Dontrell Harris of MetLife shares his experience with IBM's Master the Mainframe contest at Mainframe50. (00:04:48)