UNT senior becomes first woman to win international IBM coding contest

UNT senior becomes first woman to win international IBM coding contest

UNT senior becomes first woman to win international IBM coding contest
April 16
15:26 2018

UNT business senior Anna McKee is the first woman to be a global winner in IBM’s 2017 Master the Mainframe coding challenge, the company announced on March 15.

This is the second consecutive year a UNT student has won part three of IBM’s coding challenge, which is sponsored by AngelHack. Last year’s winner was business graduate Brian Powers.

The first two parts of the competition included walkthroughs of the system and directions for participants on what to code. The third part is up to individual interpretation, McKee said.

UNT Professor of information systems Leon Kappelman said McKee has a good future because of her success at the IBM competition.

“It says two things: [McKee] is hardworking, and the College of Business department we have is a very, very good program,” Kappelman said. “They get good jobs — it’s like we are doing magic over here. Our students do well.”

The Master the Mainframe challenge started in 2005 and involves students from six continents and 120 countries, with more than 17,000 high school and college student participants, said Troy Crutcher, program manager for Master the Mainframe.

The virtual contest provides an “introduction to programming and application development competition designed to teach students how to code and build new innovations on the mainframe,” Crutcher said.

McKee explained a mainframe is a “massive server” that provides security with zero downtime. Mainframes are primarily used by large organizations.

McKee said she was not sure what she wanted to study when she graduated high school. She studied business during her single year at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas, but left because she didn’t find anything she was passionate about.

McKee wasn’t introduced to technology until she transferred to community college and took computer programming language classes for C++ and then a Java course the following semester at UNT. This sealed what she wanted to do career wise, McKee said.

“[The C++ course] gave me something my other classes didn’t — I was intrigued by it,” McKee said. “I kind of put all my eggs in one basket and just followed that route into an information systems degree.”

As of now, McKee said she does not have a job lined up but does have a summer internship as a technical intern with USAA, a financial services company. She is expected to graduate in May 2019 with two degrees: a bachelor’s in business computer information systems and a bachelor’s in business administration and decision sciences. She is also contemplating attending graduate school.

“I have been playing around with the idea of going to graduate school to get a master’s in data science,” McKee said. “I don’t really know what I want to be doing in a year. I don’t know if I want to enter the corporate world right away or go on to get my master’s.”

In 2016, McKee competed in the Master the Mainframe challenge because it was a class requirement for her advanced mainframe class at UNT. She only participated in parts one and two that year, not attempting the final portion of the challenge.

McKee said her goal for competing in 2017 was to do her best and complete all three parts of the challenges, something she was not successful in the previous year. She described the third part as a “very challenging” sector of the coding contest.

“You have to be creative,” McKee said, “because participants have to create [codes to communicate] for a made-up company.”

McKee found out a month ago she was the first woman to be ranked No. 1 in the coding contest.

“How I got into technology is unconventional,” McKee said. “I see that more women are getting into technology and that is really something amazing to see … there is something really changing in this world and I don’t particularly know what it is but it is something. It’s awesome to see that.”

Featured Image: Anna McKee sits in the public computer lab at the Business Leadership Building demonstrating her coding skills. Anna is the winner of the IBM Master the Mainframe coding competition. Omar Gonzalez

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Jacqueline Guerrero

Jacqueline Guerrero

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1 Comment

  1. Shrevegal
    Shrevegal April 17, 14:29

    Congratulations on a job well done! Women can do everything!

    Reply to this comment

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