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Mainframe Open Education: My Journey as a Summer Mentee

Written by Tiiso Senosha, Open Mainframe Project Summer 2022 Mentee

I am a 3rd-year student at the University of Johannesburg, studying Business Information Technology. I prefer to describe myself as a tech advocate, tech enthusiast, and leader. For the past 2 and a half years, I have been learning mainframe skills and advocating for the use of Z technologies. Currently, I am the university lead for the Mainframe Open Education Project working with different educational institutions globally to provide foundational mainframe education. This blog will provide more details about the Mainframe Open Education project and my journey as a mentee. 

Tiiso Senosha

Open Mainframe Project summer mentorship: Open sourcing mainframe education with the Mainframe Open Education (MOE) Project.

Contributing to an open source project is a goal I have always wanted to achieve. This summer, my mentor, Lauren Valenti selected me to work with her on the Mainframe Open Education Project. She is the Director of Education & Customer Engagement for the Mainframe Software Division at Broadcom. She is cool and has been excelling at guiding me to achieve my bi-weekly targets. 

What is the Mainframe Open Education Project?

The MOE Project, as it is called, is open sourcing mainframe education and the transfer of knowledge. The aim is to bridge the skills gap in mainframe technologies. Mainframe professionals use this platform to share their knowledge with the community to ensure that companies that use mainframes have access to new talent. They contribute educational assets, draft learning plans for new talent, and provide business leaders with access to free foundational education. For those who are new to the Mainframe or those who want to learn more about the Mainframe, can also consume. 

What is the role of a summer mentee in the project?

As a mentee, I review the content posted on the project’s GitBook. We meet up with the core team every Friday to advise them on the changes to be added. We also make them aware of the gaps that need closing and what would help content consumers learn effectively. Now and then, I write and publish blog posts to increase awareness of what the core team is doing for the mainframe community.  I am now spearheading a user group for universities to work with them to help curate content for this project, especially the areas I’ve identified that are gaps. 

How have I benefited from this project?

It is not every day that you get to sit in meetings with professionals with more than 20 years of work experience. There is a lot that you can learn by just being part of the conversation. I listed below a few lessons that I have learned over the past two months:

  • How educational curriculums are created
  • How open-source projects are run
  • I learned more about the mainframes and careers available in the industry.
  • How to communicate with professionals at their level
  • How to say “no”

In this GitBook, there’s tons of information to learn. It is tempting for a curious person like me who enjoys learning to take a course because it is interesting. It is crucial not to be distracted and deviate from the main goal. I’d advise students to go through all the content on the GitBook before choosing a course to take. 

What challenges do I face as a mentee?

The project is still in its earliest stages. It takes time to reach the number of contributors we would like to have on our project. MOE relies on volunteers to help make foundational mainframe education accessible. There is an issue of time where the core team is swamped with work and unable to make changes to the GitBook as early as I would like. 

What can you expect from the project in the coming days?

We are working with different universities across the globe to establish a student user group that I will be leading. I will be working with International Connector in August to spread the word about this project to the IBM zSystems ambassadors. There is also a no-code hackathon that we are organising with the Open Mainframe Project.