Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch, Author of "The Last Lecture," Has Died at 47

Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon professor of computer science died today of pancreatic cancer at 47. He died in Virginia, having insisted on moving so that his wife and children could be closer to beloved family members after his death.

His academic achievements are many--he was co-founder with Don Marinelli, of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center and started the Building Virtual World course which he taught for a decade. He was a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator and a Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellow and did sabbaticals at Walt Disney Imagineering and Electronic Arts. He authored or co-authored five books, including the book, The Last Lecture; over 70 articles and was the founder of the Alice software project. He topped the list of the World's Top-100 Most Influential People (Time magazine).

Aside from his academic credentials, his relationship with his wife, Jai, and his children, his other crowning achievement was his entry for Carnegie Mellon's Last Lecture series, "Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." In August, 2006, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a mean-spirited disease that is both pitiless and merciless as it eats up the life of the person afflicted with it. By August, 2007, he was told that it had mestastisized and that his time was short. Instead of putting his affairs in order and going on his last vacation, he went to the classroom. Here's his lecture.

Watch it, get your hands on the book, plaster on a broad smile about the beauty of your dreams and then get to work.

Some of my fave nuggets from The Last Lecture:
  • "The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the OTHER people!" — from The Last Lecture
  • "...when you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering you to tell you anymore, that's a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care." — from The Last Lecture
  • "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." — from The Last Lecture
  • "It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's all about leading your life. If you lead your life in a right way, karma will take care of itself. And dreams will come to you." — from The Last Lecture
  • "We're not going to talk about spirituality and religion. Although I will tell you that I have experienced a deathbed conversion. I just bought a Macintosh." — from The Last Lecture
  • We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." from The Last Lecture



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