Randy Pausch Day

Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has declared Sun., Nov. 20, Randy Pausch Memorial Day in Pittsburgh.

The proclamation praises the late professor and alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University for raising awareness of pancreatic cancer, co-founding the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and Alice computer programming curriculum and bridging the gap between technology and the arts.

At 6 p.m. on Nov. 20, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will host a candlelight vigil at Gilda's Club at 2816 Smallman Street in the Strip District.

Pausch, who inspired countless students in the classroom and others worldwide through his highly acclaimed last lecture, died of complications from pancreatic cancer in 2008. He was 47.

Also a CMU alumnus, Pausch co-founded the Entertainment Technology Center and led researchers who created Alice, a revolutionary way to teach computer programming.

He was widely respected in academic circles for a unique interdisciplinary approach, bringing together artists, dramatists and designers to break new ground by working in collaboration with computer scientists.

Outside the classroom, he gained public fame for delivering what would come to be known as "The Last Lecture." On Sept. 18, 2007, only a month after doctors told him that he had three-to-six months to live following a recurrence of pancreatic cancer, he presented a lecture called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" to an overflow crowd in McConomy Auditorium.

The moving and often humorous talk recounted his efforts to achieve such childhood dreams as becoming a professional football player, experiencing zero gravity and developing Disney World attractions.

In the process, he shared his insights on finding the good in other people, working hard to overcome obstacles and living generously.

"If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself," Pausch said. "The dreams will come to you."

The video appeared on countless websites and has been viewed by millions. Appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC's Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News followed.

A book version, "The Last Lecture," co-written by Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal (and a fellow CMU alumnus), became a best-seller upon its release this spring.

"Randy had an enormous and lasting impact on Carnegie Mellon," said CMU president Jared L. Cohon.

"A brilliant researcher and gifted teacher, he was a key member of our Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center. His love of teaching, his sense of fun and his brilliance came together in the Alice project, which teaches students computer programming while enabling them to do something fun — making animated movies and games. Carnegie Mellon — and the world — are better places for having had Randy Pausch in them."

Pausch was also a pioneer in the development of virtual reality, including creating the popular Building Virtual Worlds class.

Take a video tour of Randy's room — guided by his sister Tammy Pausch Mason and complete with annotations about the artwork from Randy's book and lecture.


Related Links: About Randy Pausch | Tour Randy's Childhood Room | ETC | Pancreatic Cancer Action Network | HCII