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Thread: Randy Pausch Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

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    Randy Pausch Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

    Randy Pausch Lecture:

    Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

    Randy Pausch (born October 23, 1960) is a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In September 2006, Pausch was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. He pursued a very aggressive cancer treatment that included major surgery and experimental chemotherapy; however, in August 2007, he was told the cancer had metastasized to his liver and spleen. He then started palliative chemotherapy, intended to extend his life as long as possible. At that time, doctors estimated he would remain healthy for another three to six months.[1]

    Professional Accomplishments

    Pausch received his bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Brown University and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. He has been a co-founder, along with Don Marinelli, of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and he started the Building Virtual Worlds course at CMU and taught it for ten years. He has been a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, and a Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellow. Pausch was a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science from 1988 until 1997. He has done sabbaticals at Walt Disney Imagineering and Electronic Arts (EA), and consulted with Google on user interface design. Pausch is the author or co-author of five books and over 70 articles, and the founder of the Alice software project.

    Pausch received two awards from ACM in 2007 for his achievements in computing education. These are the Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award and the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education.[2] He was also inducted as a Fellow of the ACM in 2007.

    The Pittsburgh City Council declared November 19, 2007 to be "Dr. Randy Pausch Day."[3]


    Pausch has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer[4][5] and was told in August 2007 to expect a remaining three to six months of good health. He soon moved his family back down to Virginia.

    On March 13, 2008, Pausch advocated for greater federal funding for pancreatic cancer before the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.[6] In the week prior to this, he had been hospitalized in order to have needle aspiration of pleural effusion in his right lung.

    The "Last Lecture"

    Pausch delivered his "Last Lecture," titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," at CMU on September 18, 2007.[7] This talk was modeled after an ongoing series of lectures where top academics are asked to think deeply about what matters to them, and then give a hypothetical "final talk," i.e., "what wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?"

    Before speaking, Pausch received a long standing ovation from a large crowd of over 400 colleagues and students. When he motioned them to sit down, saying, "Make me earn it," some in the audience shouted back, "You did!"

    During the lecture, Pausch was upbeat and humorous, alternating between wisecracks, insights on computer science and engineering education, advice on building multi-disciplinary collaborations, working in groups and interacting with other people, offering inspirational life lessons, and performing push-ups on stage.

    After Pausch finished his lecture, Steve Seabolt, on behalf of Electronic Arts, which is now collaborating with CMU in the development of Alice 3.0,[8] pledged to honor Pausch by creating a memorial scholarship for women in computer science,[4] in recognition of Pausch's support and mentoring of women in CS and engineering.

    CMU president Jared Cohon spoke emotionally of Pausch's humanity and called his contributions to the university and to education "remarkable and stunning."[9] He then announced that CMU will celebrate Pausch's impact on the world by building and naming after Pausch a raised pedestrian bridge[10] to connect CMU's new Computer Science building and the Center for the Arts, symbolizing the way Pausch linked those two disciplines.

    Finally, Brown University professor Andries van Dam followed Pausch's last lecture with a tearful and impassioned speech praising him for his courage and leadership, calling him a role model. [9]

    Dying Professor's Last Lecture

  2. #2


    October 23, 1960 (1960-10-23) (age 47)


    United States


    United States


    Computer science


    Carnegie Mellon University

    Alma mater

    Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University

    Known for

    Creator of Alice software project
    co-founder of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center
    Virtual Reality Research with Disney Imagineers
    Inspirational speeches regarding life
    Battle with cancer

    Notable awards

    Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award
    ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education
    Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education

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