IBM i Gets a New Crop of ‘Fresh Faces’
June 12, 2019 Alex Woodie
The IBM i platform isn’t getting any younger, and neither are the thousands of individuals who work on it. But that doesn’t mean that platform as a whole should be marked by gray. To celebrate the viability of the platform’s ability to attract young people, IBM System Magazine just introduced its newest crop of “Fresh Faces.”
IBM System Magazine has been calling attention to the IBM i youth movement since 2016, when it debuted its original crop of Fresh Faces. Liam Allan was a member of that group as a teenager, and he has since gone on to build himself a solid career on the platform.
To celebrate all the non-old folks working on the platform, the IBM-supported publication has rolled out a new group of fresh faces every year since then. This month, the magazine introduced eight young people as part of its 2019 Fresh Faces group. It’s a diverse group of men and women from around the world.
Here’s a quick rundown on the new group:
David Cary: As programmer for Consultech Services in Rochester, Michigan, Cary has been programming on the IBM i for about two years. He’s still fairly new to the platform, but that’s not holding him back. In fact, he’s already helped with at least one IBM i 7.3 upgrade. He’s also a member of the South East Michigan iSeries User Group (SEMIUG).
Cary says using a modern platform helps him be more successful in his job. “I’m relatively new to the industry, so modern platforms are advantageous because they’re user friendly and the interfaces look less intimidating,” he says in his IBM Systems Magazine profile.
Sean Corpuz: Corpuz is a programmer analyst CELS Enterprises Inc., a Los Angeles, California-based manufacturer of women’s shoes better known as Chinese Laundry. Corpuz, who was profiled in a 2017 IT Jungle piece by the late Dan Burger, is also affiliated with the Southern California user group, OCEAN.
Corpuz is involved in his company’s 5250 modernization project, where he uses everything from ExtJS from Sencha to RPGLE and SQL to get the job done. That experience has been eye-opening for him.
“IBM i is an agent of change,” he said in his IBM Systems Magazine profile. “I’ve grown not to think outside the box — but to make my box bigger. I’ve heard people say a lack of educational resources is one reason people haven’t modernized with IBM i. I encourage learning to occur on your own time because many sources of free information, even from IBM and the open-source community, are available.”
Mohit Gangani: Gangani is a young IBM i and Java developer Programmers.io, a Coppell, Texas-based company that provides IBM i and other programming services to a range of companies on an outsourced basis. Gangani, who lives and works in India, has worked with modern tools and technology to help modernize his clients’ systems, including RPGLE, SQL, JSON, and the cloud.
Gangani joined Programmers.io in 2017 and has helped customers maintain their applications. “We are providing our services to keep their system up and running along with the integration of modern technologies,” he said in his IBM Systems Magazine profile. “This helps them retain their IBM i system instead of migrating from it.”
April Medinger: When she first joined IBM i ERP software developer HarrisData, Medinger was fascinated watching a co-worker navigate a green screen menu. She didn’t know what the IBM i was, but she sensed that it was something different. “I was intrigued and asked a lot of questions, like: ‘Why don’t you have to do such and such on IBM i?” Medinger stated in her IBM Systems Magazine profile. “And she would respond: ‘Because it does it for you!'”
Today, Medinger works primarily on the front end, as a UX designer/UI developer/Web applications developer. However, she is interested in learning more about the inner workings of the IBM i, and has taken an introductory class to the platform through Jim Buck’s new company, imPower Technologies (see a profile of the company in a separate issue of today’s newsletter).
“My goal is to bring my open-source knowledge to IBM i to help support clients’ modernization,” she says in her IBM Systems Magazine profile. “From an outside perspective, cost is one reason more clients don’t use IBM i. The limited number of developers also plays a role. With open-source leading the marketplace, it’s difficult to find developers to manage legacy software on IBM i.”
Anurag Kalya: Another programmer with Programmers.io, Kalya works with RPG and Java. He is currently involved in maintaining applications for Programmers.io’s clients, as well as engaging in legacy modernization projects from his base in India.
“Many clients struggle to maintain their current applications because of staffing shortages,” he writes in his IBM Systems Magazine profile. “Many are also unaware of the modernization that can be accomplished with IBM i.”
Marina Schwenk: As a software developer and junior IBM i administrator for LED lighting manufacturer Everbrite, Schwenk helps take care of her company’s IBM i applications. She’s also involved in Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association (WMCPA).
Schwenk is a big fan of open source software, and is the co-author of two projects developed in RPGLE, including a logging service program and a unit-testing framework called iUnit. If IBM i shops had the right skillset and resources, they could do more to modernize their applications using open source, she said.
Awareness of the IBM i is another issue. “When I was earning my bachelor’s degree with Bellevue University, it was completely unheard of in every discussion I had with my classmates,” she said in her IBM Systems Magazine profile. “I would bring it up and the response always was: ‘What is IBM i?'”
Matt Seeberger: As a Power i engineer for CMA Technology Solutions, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana provider of IT services. Seeberger isn’t a newbie on the platform, having worked with it for 10 years. But he still has that youth thing going for him, not to mention a desire to make a difference.
Seeberger has been quite active in the IBM i community of late, including presenting on Domino and IBM i at IBM Think earlier this year. He also started an IBM i community on Slack. He wants to see more people become aware of the full capability of the platform.
“The platform can run more modern languages and open-source packages than people realize—with modern front ends,” he said in his IBM Systems Magazine profile. “I’m committed to seeing the platform grow and expand, which is why I share information about what it’s capable of doing in order to reach the masses.”
Michael C. Szczepanik is an application developer with GEMKO Information Group, an Amherst, New York-based developer of IBM i based applications for the insurance industry. Szczepanik has been working on the IBM i platform for 10 years, during which time he has been involved in a range of projects.
Szczepanik enjoys finding simple solutions to complex problems. In his IBM Systems Magazine profile, he recounted how one client was having trouble getting various systems to talk to each other. Szczepanik recommended bringing it all together on the Power Systems server, which ended up solving the issue and saving the customers money to boot.
“One of the most surprising reasons I’ve encountered for clients not modernizing their environment with IBM i is because ‘no one is really using that,'” he said. “This is unfortunate because there’s a huge benefit to taking advantage of the open-source community and tools that AI, especially IBM Watson, can bring to a business.”