The Last Lecture author Randy Pausch legacy lives on

By Joe | August 19, 2009

randypausch_500The Last Lecture author Randy Pausch left his legacy in a computer program named Alice, designed to make 3-d animation and rendering easy.

Randy Pausch was a computer scientist and lecturer and author of “The Last Lecture” which became wildly popular just before his passing on July 25th 2008. Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September of 2006. Asked to think deeply about what really mattered in his life, Dr. Pausch delivered a lecture entitled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon which went on to become wildly popular on Youtube. It became so popular in fact that it drew media attentionfrom all over the world. He actually delivered an abbreviated version of his lecture on the Oprah show in October 2007.

Although he knew he was dying of pancreatic cancer, a terminal illness with no possible cure, Randy Pausch delivered the last lecture with humor and joy. He alternated between wisecracks and and used his insights in computer science to deliver an upbeat and humorous message to his audiences.

Professor Pausch’s battle with cancer lasted a number of years and he underwent a number of surgeries but the outcome became clear early on. The cancer was terminal.

Before being diagnosed with Cancer, Professor Pausch had already planned on delivering a generic “Last Lecture” but could not think of the subject of his speech. After receiving his diagnosis and an admonition from doctors to “stay home and rest”. Dr. Pausch decided upon his inspirational message and embarked on a journey to deliver that message to as many people as possible before passing on.

“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” was delivered before an audience of over 450 college students at Carnegie Melon University on September 18th 2007.

In the speech, Pausch talked about his childhood dreams, explaining how he accomplished, or tried to accomplish them. He talked fondly about his childhood and growing up in a warm and loving environment. Some of the childhood dreams he talked about included being in zero gravity which was inspired by the Apollo 11 mission, playing professional football for the NFL and writing and article for the World Book Encyclopedia.

After talking about his own dreams and how he fulfilled them, he turned to how he enabled the dreams of others including George Lucas who hired Pausch to work on three of the Star Wars films: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith.

Like many of you, I watched Dr. Pausch’s Last Lecture on Youtube and was impressed by his good humor in the face of adversity and his passion for life despite being terminally ill.

Through his work in computer science an 3d rendering, and especially through The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch’s legacy lives on.randypausch_500

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