What is the Master the Mainframe contest?

The contest is sponsored by the IBM Z Academic Initiative, which has provided mainframe training and resources to students at more than 1,000 schools in 70 countries. By participating in the contest you learn, prepare for a career – and you may win prizes.

Due to the contest's success, the challenges and systems from the contest are now available to anyone, year-round, through the Learning System.

Why mainframes?

Starting salaries for “mainframe developers” average $113,000, more than double the average salary for electrical engineering.

Why Master a Mainframe?

Many of the world’s largest and most respected companies rely on mainframes for their speed, reliability and security – and are actively seeking mainframe developers.

See the benefits to you


The contest and Learning System provide a graded, turnkey, hands-on project easily incorporated into curriculums. The IBM Z Academic Initiative provides additional educator resources including curriculum, access to systems, e-learning, and more.


Students who compete in the contest gain unique skills needed by Fortune 500 companies and gain exposure to a wide variety of enterprise systems, software, and products. Open Badges can be earned and employment opportunities can be found through the contest and job board.


This contest connects employers to thousands of talented people with computing and coding skills. Employers can use the job board to find talent for internships and jobs or use the Learning System to introduce new employees to the mainframe.

“IBM’s Master the Mainframe contest enabled Visa to recruit students with mainframe computing skills - a critical success factor in extending the reach and capabilities of our network while at the same time enhancing the security of payments and maintaining high volume / high availability.”

—Jeff Gill, Senior Director, Switching Systems, Visa Inc

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