Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
November 14, 2011

Childhood Dreams

ETC Team Preserves Paintings from Randy Pausch House

By Bruce Gerson


James David White and Jon Underwood of the Entertainment Technology Center never knew Randy Pausch, but they recently had the opportunity to sense his spirit and see some of his childhood dreams.

White and Underwood traveled to the late professor's childhood home in Columbia, Md., to extract and preserve his artwork that decorated his bedroom walls before the new owners remodeled. In Pausch's last lecture, he spoke about how his parents had allowed him to paint his walls and encouraged other parents to do the same. "Don't worry about the resale value," he said.
"I only came on staff at the ETC a year ago, so I never knew Randy personally, but I quickly learned how important he was to the ETC and CMU. So going down to his house, it felt kind of like walking onto holy ground," said Underwood, an information technology support associate. "It was exciting being a part of this. It was like being a part of history in the making."

White, a "designgeneer" at the ETC who provides design and engineering expertise to help students build their projects, cut out the art pieces from the walls. The art included a space rocket, a chess piece, an elevator, a mouse hole and a secret passage to Venus.

"It was an emotional thing to do. It was very important to me," White said.

White and Underwood, who met Pausch's mother, Virginia, and sister, Tammy, at the home, brought the art pieces back to the ETC, where they are being cleaned, restored and examined to see if any ambient light will pose a threat to the integrity of the paint.

All of the pieces will be returned to the Pausch family, except the space rocket, which will find a permanent launching pad at the ETC.