Learn AI in Nebraska: A Guide to Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs & Certificate-Level Training Courses Online & in Nebraska

ai nebraska

The writing is on the wall. Leaders from virtually every sector in Nebraska have something to say about the impact of AI.

The president and CEO of Omaha Public Power District says the utility company has seen annual electricity usage increase by 1250% in recent years. OPPD’s president attributes the majority of that increase to the work being done in AI and the data centers that support it, projecting that demand will increase another two-fold by 2030.

At a 2023 AI conference in Omaha the founder and CEO of Omaha-based freight carrier company Moneiva described how advances in automation have transformed the entire logistics industry. She explained that what used to take up the better part of a day 20 years ago, can today be accomplished in a fraction of that time.

Because of the state’s unique position as a logistical hub for big agriculture, AI in these fields is taking off at an accelerated pace here. For one, Nebraska is a logistics hub because of its centralized position in the US and North America. For another, it’s a vital link in the nation’s strategic food security. These two factors combined in 2022 to land Nebraska a $25 million federal robotics investment.

Even before this hefty sum was announced, Lincoln was already an unlikely leader when it came to cities with strong AI potential. In 2021, Brookings ranked it among the top-five smaller metro areas nationally for AI activities.

Now Lincoln, host of a university with a new robotics lab, is well established as a regional AI leader and attracting world-class talent to the state.

It’s an ideal time for Cornhuskers to earn a degree in AI and graduate into the exciting and rapidly developing scene here in Nebraska.

Nebraska’s Heartland Robotics Cluster

ai smart farmingWhat happens when you combine a drive to improve efficiency, national food security, tens-of-millions of dollars in investments, and the latest developments in technology?

You get Nebraska’s Heartland Robotics Cluster (HRC).

In September 2022 the US Department of Commerce awarded the HRC a $25 million grant, an investment that cemented Nebraska’s status as regional innovator. This enabled the HRC, established just one year prior, to move towards fulfilling goals like:

  • Introducing robotics into the agriculture industry to accelerate development
  • Developing strategies to revitalize Nebraska’s rural labor force that can be scaled nationally
  • Increasing educational opportunities for robotics
  • Creating an automation demo space helmed by the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • Expanding the Nebraska Innovation Studio’s robotics makerspace on the UNL campus

Some of the most exciting opportunities made possible by this grant are in education.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been tapped to receive funding to build research and development lab space. That’s in addition to expanding its robotics engineering curriculum for undergrads.

Northeast Community College is gearing up to use its portion of the grant to develop an automation fabrication lab. An urban ag/robotics training and outreach center is in the works at Metro Community College.

It’s only natural that the educational talent fostered at home in Nebraska will have enticing professional opportunities ahead during the transition to the workforce. To cover this, the grant also invests in robotic AgTech startups.

A robotic chicken caretaker is coming soon to a broiler house near you. Grain bin robots that can literally navigate inside silos will be the inspectors and crust-breakers of the future. Prototypes are already in the field.

If you have a strong foundation in AI in a field like robotics, then Nebraska is the right place to be.

In 2024 a surgery robot developed by a Nebraska graduate arrived at the International Space Station. It will be tested remotely from a lab in Lincoln. This is just one example of ambition realized. Where will your ambitions take you once you graduate?

AI Jobs in Nebraska

AI is already having a huge impact on Nebraska’s job market.

Transportation is one of the state’s major industries where AI is in a phase of rapid expansion. Logistics company Moneiva is eyeing these developments and making plans accordingly. It’s deploying advanced logistics solutions to simplify traditionally cumbersome processes and improve efficiency. Company management is looking for ways to maximize automation.

In education, developers are creating AI tools for K-12 teachers that assist in writing lesson plans. Students are getting a feel for AI tools as both a means of digital tutoring and a less-than-honorable way of writing an essay.

AI jobs are mostly concentrated in urban areas, especially metro Omaha. Using computer and information systems manager jobs as a stand-in for AI jobs, according to 2022 statistics from the US Department of Labor AI jobs are distributed as follows across Nebraska:

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Omaha and Lincoln

Two of Nebraska’s largest sectors, agriculture and manufacturing, are ripe for AI improvements.

In Big Ag, companies are already hiring AI engineers skilled in robotics, computer vision, data processing, and sensor networking.

AI techs at one company in Omaha used skills in computer engineering and robotics to develop a land-based drone that can navigate dangerous settings and perform maintenance.

When it comes to polymer manufacturing for the microelectronics industry, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed an improved process that uses machine learning to understand complex reaction mechanisms and material behavior. The resulting product has less defects and improved quality.

Healthcare is another major sector in Nebraska and AI solutions are quickly emerging. Image recognition specialists worked with doctors to train a software program to recognize potentially cancerous colon polyps. Doctors at Midwest Gastrointestinal Associates in Omaha have now deployed the GI Genius system that can improve detections by 10% – double the national standard.

An AI solution as simple as speech to text is being used by some doctors at Nebraska Medicine. They’re finding that the process of making notes on patient records can be conveniently accelerated with a program called Dragon Ambient eXperience.

If you have an academic foundation in AI, then you’re well aware that job openings are already popping up in virtually every sector in Nebraska.

AI Companies in Lincoln and Omaha

Omaha-based Grain Weevil can be said to have one driving principle at its core: do what it takes to keep people out of grain bins. Considering 20% of grain bin accidents involve teenage boys, and that farmers risk injury more than six million times every year in grain bins, the market demand for a grain bin robot that negates these hazards goes without saying.

Enter Grain Weevil, a company named after its signature product. This grain-bin-dwelling robot does everything from leveling and breaking up crusts to unplugging sumps. You wouldn’t stick your fingers under a lawnmower to unclog it, so likewise let Grain Weevil do the dirty work in a grain silo.

Birds Eye Robotics is another Nebraska company that uses the latest developments in technology to reduce labor demand, uniquely in its case for poultry growers. Robots that specialize in getting down and dirty with chickens to monitor and assess their environment was the natural next step, and that’s exactly what BER specializes in. BER uses two words to describe itself: precision poultry. That’s a motto that can be applied to broiler houses with more than 40,000 birds.

Marble Technologies in Lincoln is looking to revolutionize the meat processing industry by introducing AI sharpened efficiency. This means incorporating computer vision, robotics, analytics, and advanced process engineering; integrating improvements made possible by the latest developments in AI. Look for automated packing, weighing, sorting, tracking, and yield optimizing coming to an abattoir near you.

Lincoln-based Virtual Incision specializes in robot-assisted surgery. You read that right: surgeons using robots as avatars as they perform surgeries remotely. This is yet another Nebraska-based company that would have been dismissed as science fiction mere decades ago. But the future is now, and VI is already testing its products in venues that include outer space.

The common denominator between you and AI career opportunities is a relevant educational foundation. Nebraska is giving Silicon Valley a run for its money.

AI Salary in Metro Omaha, Lincoln, and Grand Island

The US Department of Labor keeps salary statistics at the state and local level for AI professionals, represented by computer and information system managers.

In 2022 these professionals earned an annual average of $125,800 statewide. At the local level average annual salaries were:

Salaries for AI professionals in the top 10% were highest in Grand Island and metro Omaha, at $177,730 and $171,240, respectively. In Lincoln that figure was $170,120.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Master’s Degree and Certificate Courses in Nebraska and Online

Nebraska is punching above its weight when it comes to its academic offerings in AI-related fields.

For starters, the College of Information Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska Omaha offers a graduate certificate in AI.

There are also plenty of online options for AI degrees and certificates offered by schools across the country.

Machine Learning Degree and Certificate Options in Omaha

ML is big in AI and faculty in university computer science departments throughout the state are guaranteed to have some experience in this field, if not outright specialize in ML.

The University of Nebraska Omaha’s Department of Computer Science offers a graduate certificate in machine learning.

AI Robotics Degree and Certificate Options in Lincoln and Norfolk

Nebraska is a regional leader in robotics with major investments from the public and private sectors.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is developing a state-of-the-art robotics lab, from which it currently offers an undergraduate minor in robotics engineering. It also hosts a 16,000-square-foot makerspace for robotics innovators and entrepreneurs, the Nebraska Innovation Studio (NIS).

Northeast Community College offers a certificate and diploma program in machining and manufacturing automation.

AI Computer Science Degree and Certificate Options in Omaha and Lincoln

CS is foundational for more advanced topics in AI, and it’s no accident that many schools in the state offer degree programs in this field.

The University of Nebraska Omaha offers an MS in computer science with an AI concentration, plus a Ph.D. in computing and information science with an AI concentration.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers an MS and Ph.D. program in computer science, with the option to specialize in computer engineering or bioinformatics.

The University of Nebraska Kearney, Concordia University Nebraska, and Wayne State College all have undergraduate degree programs in CS.

AI Engineering Degree and Certificate Options in Lincoln and Omaha

Engineering and robotics go hand-in-hand, and Nebraska resources both.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a master’s and Ph.D. program in electrical engineering. It also offers an undergraduate degree in computer engineering.

The University of Nebraska Omaha offers a graduate certificate in software engineering and a BS in computer engineering.

University of Nebraska

College of Information Science and Technology
Omaha, NE

university of nebraska omaha

MS in Computer Science-AI concentration (on-campus)

Total Estimated Program Cost: $14,619 ($937 per-credit out-of-state)

Only public AI master’s degree in Nebraska.

Graduate Certificate in AI (on-campus)


Total Estimated Program Cost: $5,316 ($937 per-credit out-of-state)

Also offers: PhD in Computing and Information Science-AI concentration