MKE Tech Hub Coalition Partners with North Carolina State University to Increase AI Competencies in Region

Federal funded AI Academy program aims to grow artificial intelligence workforce 

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin – April 26, 2022 – The MKE Tech Hub Coalition is partnering with North Carolina State University (NC State) to prepare area individuals for roles in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning through participation in the AI Academy (AIA) program. This program, funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and administered by NC State, aims to advance AI proficiency within the tech workforce and address the growing demand for these skills.

According to CompTIA, 30% of open job postings list a need for emerging tech skills. With the national tech talent unemployment rate at 1.5%, employers are not finding enough qualified candidates to fill these roles. Programs like the AI Academy address the shortage of individuals prepared for AI and machine learning roles by providing employers the opportunity to train and upskill their existing employees.

Several MKE Tech Hub Coalition member employers will be sending their employees to participate in the AI Academy 4th cohort, which starts in July. These employers include: Associated Bank, Concurrency, Froedtert, MARS solutions, Medical College of WI, Northwestern Mutual, Rockwell Automation, and Verizon.

“The greatest strength of our AIA program is the exceptional industry partnerships we have formed,” said Carla Johnson, Executive Director, AI Academy. “Our consortium will lead and inform the important work of building a pipeline of highly qualified and well-prepared AI talent across the U.S.  We are thankful to the MKE Tech Hub Coalition for pursuing the partnership and for the support they are providing to their members to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The AI Academy program will provide a comprehensive learning experience with individuals taking a series of four courses over a year, taught by nationally recognized experts.  Employer sponsors agree to provide a skilled mentor that will support participants as they apply what they are learning on the job.  Upon completion, participants will earn “Data Scientist” and “AI Associate” certificates with the option to receive a third certificate for the AI Academy Foundations course. The AI Academy had a 95% completion rate in their first cohort.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science are emerging technologies expected to grow with increased demand for skilled talent. According to EMSI, 26% of AI and Machine Learning skills current come from entry-level talent. This creates a skills gap for mid to senior level tech employees and area employers who wish to upskill their existing employees.

“Re/upskilling without the ability to apply what one is learning with support from someone that is already skilled in the discipline is rarely effective. For emerging technologies, it is an even heavier lift for employers to build this capacity within their organizations,” said Laura Schmidt, chief talent development officer at MKE Tech Hub Coalition. “We are proud to partner with NC State to make this opportunity available to our member employers and help increase these high-demand skills within the Milwaukee region.”

The AI Academy continues to enroll additional participants in the program. Interested employers within southeast Wisconsin should email Laura Schmidt at for more information.

About the MKE Tech Hub Coalition

The MKE Tech Hub Coalition is a non-profit organization working to inclusively double tech talent in the Milwaukee region. We serve as a unifying voice for Milwaukee’s tech community, working with others to grow a vibrant, inclusive ecosystem where tech and innovation create enduring regional prosperity and life-changing jobs. Formed in late 2019, over 120 member organizations collaborate to attract individuals and businesses to the region, grow a diverse talent pipeline and scale the innovation ecosystem. Underlying all initiatives is an intentional focus on increasing the diversity of our tech talent. To learn more and signup for our newsletter, visit

About North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University is a Research Uuniversity that serves as a key part of the Research Triangle region of North Carolina and has partnered with industry leaders such as SAS, CIsco, IBM, GlaxoSMithKline and Lenovo to become a driving force of the local, state and national economies. With 12 colleges representing all major academic fields, NC State educates more North Carolinians than any other university. The university offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs through 68 departments and is home to more than 2,500 faculty and 7,100 staff who serve more than 37,500 students each day. North Carolina State University’s impact can be felt across the state with NC State Extension serving citizens in all 100 North Carolina Counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.