CMU Professor Gives His Last Lesson on Life

Posted on September 20, 2007  Comments (5)

photo of Randy Pausch

CMU professor gives his last lesson on life by Mark Roth:

“If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you,” said Dr. Pausch, a 46-year-old computer science professor who has incurable pancreatic cancer. It’s not that he’s in denial about the fact that he only has months to live, he told the 400 listeners packed into McConomy Auditorium on the campus, and the hundreds more listening to a live Web cast.

In his 10 years at Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Pausch helped found the Entertainment Technology Center, which one video game executive yesterday called the premier institution in the world for training students in video game and other interactive technology. He also established an annual virtual reality contest that has become a campuswide sensation, and helped start the Alice program, an animation-based curriculum for teaching high school and college students how to have fun while learning computer programming.

It was the virtual reality work, in which participants wear a headset that puts them in an artificial digital environment, that earned him and his Carnegie Mellon students a chance to go on the U.S. Air Force plane known as the “vomit comet,” which creates moments of weightlessness, and which the students promised to model with VR technology.

“A recent CT scan showed that there are 10 tumors in my liver, and my spleen is also peppered with small tumors. The doctors say that it is one of the most aggressive recurrences they have ever seen.”

“I find that I am completely positive,” he wrote. “The only times I cry are when I think about the kids — and it’s not so much the ‘Gee, I’ll miss seeing their first bicycle ride’ type of stuff as it is a sense of unfulfilled duty — that I will not be there to help raise them, and that I have left a very heavy burden for my wife.”

An inspirational story. For me personally, it reminds me of my father: Bill Hunter who honestly believed, as he was stricken with cancer, he was luckier than most people that have ever lived. He was able to do many things that no-one, not even Kings, could have dreamed of even a hundred years before. I can’t manage such an outlook most of the time, but I do try and keep that spirit alive in me at times. William G. Hunter: An Innovator and Catalyst for Quality Improvement by George Box.

Related: Video of the lectureRandy PauschHelping people have better livesThe Importance of Management Improvement

5 Responses to “CMU Professor Gives His Last Lesson on Life”

  1. xm carreira
    September 21st, 2007 @ 4:52 am

    Yes, I agree, the story is very inspirational.

  2. stephanxiao
    September 26th, 2007 @ 10:21 am

    Indeed, everyone have his/her own dream, the story is very impressive to me.

  3. No name provided
    January 14th, 2008 @ 11:51 pm

    That’s a really incredible story. I’m glad that people in this world can have that kind of outlook on life. This just goes to show, people, don’t waste your time! Life is too short to not do what you dream of doing. What do you daydream about? Whatever that is, you won’t be satisfied until you at least take a shot at pursuing it.

  4. CuriousCat: Make the World Better
    April 12th, 2008 @ 10:19 am

    Three ways to make the world better. First, Kiva is lets you loan money directly to an entrepreneur of your choice. Kiva provides loans through partners (operating in the countries) to the entrepreneurs…

  5. CuriousCat: The Last Lecture Book
    April 17th, 2008 @ 8:34 am

    a book by Dr. Randy Pausch called The Last Lecture where he expands on his lecture with “many more stories from my life and the attendant lessons I hope my kids can take from them.”

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