ECU program supplies students to fill computer job market

East Carolina University students interested in mainframe computers and software will have a chance to virtually chat with one of the industry’s leaders on June 4.

Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley and adjunct instructor Cameron Seay in the ECU Department of Technology Systems will participate in the online question-and-answer session beginning at 2 p.m. June 4. Online registration is available here. Compuware is a software company focused on mainframe innovation.

For Seay, the reason for such a session is simple.

“The global economy runs on the mainframe,” said Seay, who teaches information and computer technology classes at ECU. “This technology is now and has always been essential.”

Seay has recently been quoted in national publications singing the praises of mainframe computers and the computer language COBOL that mainframe computers use. ECU has one of the rare programs that teaches COBOL, Seay said, important as it relates to jobs and careers after graduation.

“These jobs have stability and pay well, and they can be done remotely,” Seay said.

The demand for such jobs was illustrated when ECU hosted a Master the Mainframe event in the fall with IBM. At the event, banking and other industry representatives discussed the need for mainframe programmers and technicians. About 50 students attended.

Seay doesn’t see that demand decreasing anytime soon.

“IBM makes a new version of the mainframe every two years and has done so for the past 55-plus years,” Seay said. “It is state of the art technology that has major applicability to IoT (Internet of Things), blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. It runs all of the modern programming languages. Every credit card and ATM transaction needs a mainframe to be processed.”

Seay said fellow ECU professor Joel Sweatte does a great job of promoting ECU’s mainframe classes to students. More than 115 students took classes last fall and in the spring, and 30 more are signed up to take Seay’s COBOL class this fall. And those students get a chance for an early introduction to the industry.

“We are already placing students in mainframe internships, and we have 15 to 20 companies on our bi-monthly industry calls,” Seay said.

As for the future of the mainframe?

“The same thing that has held since 1964,” Seay said. “It will continue to be an essential piece of the global technology infrastructure.”

For information on ECU’s bachelor’s degree in information and computer technology, click here.