Merrill man a finalist in international database contest

Chris Aldrich, a database administrator at Church Mutual Insurance Company in Merrill, has made the finals in the online DB2’s Got Talent contest sponsored by DBI Software. He’s looking to follow up on the success of his collegue Kshitij Kohli, a Church Mutual senior database administrator who won the contest in 2012 and persuaded Chris to enter this year.
“He went all the way and won it,” Aldrich said. “He twisted my arm to do it.”
The contest is centered around the IBM DB2 database, with competitors giving live online presentations to display their knowledge of the program.
“It looked like a really neat idea, showcasing what you know as well as learning from other people,” Chris said.
The competitors are database administrators from all over the world. Of the top five contestants, two are from the United States, and one each from India, Brazil and the UK.
Chris has been working at Church Mutual for about 10 years, but switched from programming to database administration only a year ago. That makes him probably the least experienced of the finalists.
“Some of the other competitors have been doing this much longer,” he said. “That’s kind of daunting sometimes.”
After auditioning for the contest, Chris was chosen by a panel of judges to be in the top 10. At this point, Chris has survived four rounds of presentations. Contestants are rated on their knowledge as well as their presentation skills, and must pick a different topic each time they present.
In the Top 10 presentation rounds, audience votes determine who moves on. The audience is primarily made up of other database administrators from the DB2 community, although interested members of the general public are welcome to vote as well.
Chris said he puts 5-10 hours into preparing each presentation and gets a little nervous before each one.
“Everybody on the web is watching your slides and hearing your voice,” he said. “People are weighing in on how well you present.”
The final round of live presentations was held Friday morning. Presentations can be viewed at Previous recorded presentations can also be viewed on the web site.
Chris was among the top three vote getters based on the March 15 presentations and automatically moved on to the finale. with the judges picking one of the other contestants to be entered in the final voting. Following Friday’s presentations, voting will be open for two weeks to determine this year’s winner. Winners will be announced on April 5.
The first place winner will receive free registration to an International DB2 Users Group conference in North America, Europe or Australia, plus up to $1,500 travel expense allowance. Second prize is a free DB2 symposium registration to any event in 2013, plus up to $1,000 travel expense allowance. Third prize is an Apple iPad.

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