Addressing the Tech Talent Shortage in Nebraska

Here in Nebraska, IT and other technical sectors are facing a shortage of qualified talent.

Nebraska Dev Lab is an academic/corporate partnership between Doane University and Don’t Panic Labs to help address this shortage. The program is specifically designed to help address the shortage of software developers in our area.

Through the Pipeline Program, organizations sponsor individuals with no programming experience who are seeking a career change. At the end of the twelve-month immersive experience, these individuals will become high-quality entry-level software developers in the sponsor organization.

Watch the video below to learn more.

Don't Panic Labs towel
Don't Panic Labs towel
Chad Michel

Our next cohort begins January 2021, and we are currently onboarding sponsor organizations for it. Email to sign up or to receive more information.

If you have any questions, see our FAQs below.


What is NeDL and its purpose?

NeDL is the Nebraska Dev Lab. NeDL is the name given to the partnership between Don’t Panic Labs, a software development company in Lincoln, NE and Doane University. The purpose of NeDL is to offer innovative training programs that help address the shortage of software developers in the Lincoln and Omaha region.

What is the Pipeline Program and its purpose?

The Pipeline Program is the name of the first program offered by NeDL to train software developers. It is a twelve-month program where participants will be immersed forty hours a week at Don’t Panic Labs for the first nine months, and forty hours a week at their sponsor organization for the final three months. It is an intensive, accelerated program designed to take an individual with no programming experience and train them to be a highly effective software developer.

Who are the sponsor organizations?

Sponsor organizations are companies in the Lincoln and Omaha region in need of software developers who have committed to sponsoring a participant(s) in the Pipeline Program. Sponsors fund the participant’s program expenses as well as provide the participant funds on which to live for the duration of the program. In addition, sponsors provide the participant a software development position upon the successful completion of the program. Some organizations will be sponsoring individuals already working for them. Others will be sponsoring individuals not currently working for them. In this case, sponsor organizations and participants will be paired as part of the application and selection process.

Who are the participants?

Participants are individuals sponsored by companies to be in the Pipeline Program. Some participants currently work in the company sponsoring them and are being retrained as software developers. Other participants do not currently work in the company sponsoring them and will be hired as software developers by that company upon completion of the program. By the end of the application and selection process, these individuals (who might be referred to as ​interns)​ will be paired with a sponsor company.

What are the qualifications for participants?

We have the goal of a 100% success rate. Therefore, candidates must be committed ​and m​otivated ​to completing the program and pursuing a software development career at their sponsor organization. Candidates must demonstrate they are problem solvers​ with the​ confidence, perseverance, creativity, independent learning ability, and teamwork/communication skills​ to do so effectively. Prior education/training/experience demonstrating problem solving/reasoning abilities is a plus. ​Programming experience is ​not ​a requirement​.

What is the application and selection process to be a participant?

The first step is to understand the purpose of the program and the role and qualifications of a participant. If an individual possesses the commitment, motivation, and problem-solving skills necessary to complete the program, and is available for the ​full ​twelve months of the program on a ​full-time basis​, that individual is invited to apply for the Pipeline Program. Invitations to apply can come from NeDL, a sponsor organization, or a community organization aware of the program. If you need an invitation, please contact NeDL.

The next step is to complete the application with well-thought-out responses. After reviewing the applications, and possibly asking the applicants to complete a short survey, select applicants will be invited to a half-day workshop/interview at Don’t Panic Labs approximately one month prior to the start of the program.

Shortly after the workshop/interview, participants selected for the program will be paired with a sponsor organization (if they are not already paired) and invited to participate. Formal agreements with their sponsor organization will be signed at that time. These will vary by the sponsor organization.

How much will sponsor organizations fund participants to live on during the duration of the program?

The amount will vary by sponsor, but the minimum amount is $14 per hour. Some sponsors might provide more.

Is health insurance provided to the participants for the duration of the program?

This will vary by sponsor. Generally, a participant already working at a sponsor organization will maintain whatever benefits they have. A participant not initially working at a sponsor organization probably will not be provided health insurance.

How many participant positions are available?

The program works in small cohorts. At this time, the first cohort, currently scheduled to start January 6, 2020, will have seven participants. Five of those cohort slots will be taken by participants who already work for a sponsor company. Two of those cohort slots are with sponsor companies looking for someone outside the company to sponsor. Once the program is fully operational, it is anticipated that cohorts of approximately ten participants will start every three months. Each cohort will have a mixture of participants who already work for their sponsor organization and participants not currently working for their sponsor organization.

What if I have additional questions?

Please email any addition questions to