Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more, visit www.cmu.edu/randyslecture.
Randolph Frederick "Randy" Pausch
Randolph Frederick "Randy" Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer science and human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pausch learned that he had pancreatic cancer, a terminal illness, in September of 2006. He gave an upbeat lecture entitled "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon, which became a popular YouTube video and led to other media appearances. He then co-authored a book called The Last Lecture on the same theme, which became a New York Times best-seller. Pausch died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008.
Pausch was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in Columbia, Maryland. After graduating from Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Pausch received his bachelor's degree in computer science from Brown University in May 1982 and his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in August 1988. While completing his doctoral studies, Pausch was briefly employed at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and Adobe Systems.
Computer science career
Pausch was an assistant and associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science from 1988 until 1997. While there, he completed sabbaticals at Walt Disney Imagineering and Electronic Arts (EA). In 1997, Pausch became Associate Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design, at Carnegie Mellon University. He was a co-founder in 1998, 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 10 years. He consulted with Google on user interface design and also consulted with PARC, Imagineering, and Media Metrix. Pausch is also the founder of the Alice software project. He was a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator and a Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellow. Pausch was the author or co-author of five books and over 70 articles.
Pausch received two awards from ACM in 2007 for his achievements in computing education: 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. He was also inducted as a Fellow of the ACM in 2007.
Cancer and death
Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent a Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) on September 19, 2006 in an unsuccessful attempt to halt his pancreatic cancer. He was told in August 2007 to expect a remaining three to six months of good health. He soon moved his family to Chesapeake, Virginia, a suburb near Norfolk, to be close to his wife's family. 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. In the week prior to this, he had been hospitalized in order to have needle aspiration of pleural effusion in his right lung.
On May 2, 2008, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan showed that he had very tiny (5 millimetres (0.20 in) or less) metastases in his lungs and some lymph nodes in his chest. He also had some metastases in his peritoneal and retroperitoneal cavities. On June 26, 2008, Pausch indicated that he was considering stopping further chemotherapy because of the potential adverse side effects. He was, however, considering some immuno-therapy-based approaches. On July 24, on behalf of Pausch, a friend anonymously posted a message on Pausch's webpage stating that a biopsy had indicated that the cancer had progressed further than what was expected from recent PET scans and that Pausch had "taken a step down" and was "much sicker than he had been". The friend also stated that Pausch had then enrolled in a hospice program designed to provide palliative care to those at the end of life.Pausch died from pancreatic cancer at his family's home in Chesapeake, Virginia on July 25, 2008. He is survived by his wife Jai, and their three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe.
Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Pausch delivered his "Last Lecture", titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, at CMU on September 18, 2007. Randy Pausch gave an abridged version of his speech on the Oprah show in October 2007. The 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", with a topic such as "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," someone 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. He also commented on the irony that the "Last Lecture" series had recently been renamed as "Journeys", saying, "I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it.". 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 - pledged to honor Pausch by creating a memorial scholarship for women in computer science, 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". He then announced that CMU will celebrate Pausch's impact on the world by building and naming after Pausch a raised pedestrian bridge to connect CMU's new Computer Science building and the Center for the Arts, symbolizing the way Pausch linked those two disciplines. 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.
The Last Lecture
The Disney-owned publisher Hyperion paid $6.7 million for the rights to publish a book about Pausch called The Last Lecture, co-authored by Pausch and Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow. The book became a New York Times best-seller on June 22, 2008. The Last Lecture expands on Pausch's speech. The book's first printing had 400,000 copies, and it has been translated into 17 languages. Despite speculation that the book would be made into a movie, Pausch had denied these rumors, stating that "there's a reason to do the book, but if it's telling the story of the lecture in the medium of film, we already have that."
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