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Campus News

Feberuary 5th, 2024

Former senior DOE official to present on AI

Heckman to speak at Performing Arts Center at Garrett College Feb. 15

Mr. Kurt Heckman

Mr. Kurt Heckman

A former senior U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) official will speak on the fast-evolving field of artificial intelligence on Thursday, February 15 at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College.

Kurt Heckman, who served as DOE’s director of Secretarial Boards and Councils during the Trump Administration, co-authored the Secretary’s Advisory Board report on artificial intelligence. His presentation, entitled AI in Society, will take place in the PAC recital hall.

Heckman’s presentation is free and open to the public.

Heckman said one of the keys to AI’s potential is the depth and breadth of machine learning.

"Machine learning uses algorithms that learn from data, identify patterns, and make decisions," said Heckman, "and this learning takes place without explicit programming."

Heckman said there are similarities between how humans and machines learn – but AI’s efficiency in learning is one of the major differences.

"AI is never thirsty, hungry, tired, grumpy, lonely, offended, or passionate," observed Heckman, whose presentation will also focus on both positive and negative aspects of the AI age.

Heckman currently serves as president of vCalc, the online science and industry calculation site ( He served from 1996 to 2010 as president of Sycamore.US, a software engineering company that had 160 employees with an offices in Frederick and McHenry MD.

Heckman has served since last year on the Garrett College Board of Trustees.