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WTAMU Students Continue Tradition of Success at Mainframe Contest

April 23, 2013

COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

WTAMU Students Continue Tradition of Success at Mainframe Contest

CANYON, Texas—Two computer science students at West Texas A&M University received honorable mention after placing in the top 10 out of more than 4,600 competitors at the recent international Master the Mainframe competition.

Jimmy Ewell, a junior computer science major from Austin, and Tyler Howard, a junior computer science major from Amarillo, earned honorable mention honors after completing 100 percent of the problems correctly in the first two parts of the contest. The third part of the competition required the contestants to complete a series of difficult and time consuming tasks, mastering the inner workings of mainframe software products, security protocols, multiple programming languages and various utilities. Competitors had three months to explore the system and complete the tasks.

Their success continues a five-year winning tradition launched in 2007 when WTAMU students first entered the contest, and Anar Huseynov won second place. In 2008 David Jones won third place, and Patricio Reynaga of Dumas took the first-place prize in 2010.  Last year, Vance Morris placed third.

According to IBM spokesman, Michael Todd, WTAMU has more top five winners than any other university in North America. In addition, WTAMU has more in the top one percent than any other university in North America. This includes competitors from the likes of MIT, Stanford, University of Texas at Austin, Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse University and many other prestigious universities. 

What this means to the competitors is most significant. Huseynov is continuing his study in computer science at Carnegie-Mellon University, one of the top-rated universities for computer science graduate study. Jones is a software engineering and computer systems consultant in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Reynaga works for Fidelity Investments in the Dallas area, and Vance Morris is employed by IBM at the Dallas Innovation Center. 

According to H. Paul Haiduk, WTAMU computer science coordinator, students studying computer science may pursue a focus in enterprise computing to gain an in-depth set of skills for mainframe computing. They also may focus on software engineering with some exposure to mainframe computing. A third track allows students to combine computer science and mechanical engineering and graduate with a formal minor in mechanical engineering.

While pursuing studies in computer science, many students seek internships with local firms such as CSI and Financial Payments in Amarillo. They also earn internships with Fidelity Investments and IBM in locations as far reaching as New Hampshire, New York, Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, Houston and Dallas. These distant internships typically provide full-time summer employment. 

Graduates for the WTAMU program are aggressively recruited by Fortune 100 and 500 companies such as CA Technologies, Fidelity Investments and IBM.  Regional firms such as CSI and Financial Payments with offices in Amarillo also aggressively recruit WTAMU computer science graduates. Most graduates have two or three job offers by the time they graduate. The average salary of all software engineers in Texas is approximately $95,000 a year, and WTAMU graduates typically start in the $65,000 to $80,000 range. 

For more information about the computer science program at WTAMU, contact Haiduk at H.Paul.Haiduk@cs.wtamu.edu or call 806-651-2450.  



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