Monday, September 24, 2007

Randy Pausch, a Hero to Remember

I've never met Randy Pausch, but as I'm both a geek and a movie fan, our paths have almost crossed. Dr. Pausch helped to start Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center. I've done some volunteer work on Carl Kurlander's Pittsburgh documentary project at the ETC.

However, based on yesterday's Post-Gazette article, I'm a huge fan of Randy Pausch, for tackling a difficult, personal subject with intelligence and humor.

Dr. Pausch is taking very early retirement from CMU as he's had a cancer relapse and may only have about six months left to live. As he's only 46 and has three young children, he's chosen to spend the time he has left settling his children in a new environment. His family has just moved to be near his wife's family in Virginia.

He took the time to talk to his colleagues and his students about what was important in his life and about
what he wanted to do and what he accomplished. He's had a very interesting life, and he did accomplish much of what he wanted. I also love the fact that Carnegie Mellon has named the footbridge between the Gates Computer Sciences Building and the Purnell Center for the Arts in his honor. I can't imagine a more fitting honor for such a multi-faceted man.

So I hope Dr. Pausch surprises his doctors and lives longer than the three to six months he may have left. All I could think as I read his story was the old cliche, "Only the good die young." But it doesn't feel like such a cliche in his case.

[[Thanks to NetMouse for mentioning the availability of a video Randy's talk at the Entertainment Technology Center.]]

I've since watched the whole video of Randy's "Last Lecture." It was magnificent. Mostly extremely funny, uplifting and very practical. The last line of his speech was extremely moving. If you have any interest in mentoring students, academia, being mentored or the development of virtual reality, it's worth the 1 hour and 44 minutes.

1 comment:

Sara Gold said...

Some lessons from Randy Pausch’s last lecture that especially moved me:

1. Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
2. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
3. Never lose the child-like wonder.
4. If we do something which is pioneering, we will get arrows in the back. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.
5. Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
6. If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, and the dreams will come to you.

Check out the tribute quiz on the lecture at : you can add your own questions at the end of the quiz.