Randy Pausch and Computer Science
Randolph Frederick Pausch, more commonly known as Randy Pausch, is an American author and educator that has inspired and made a significant impact on many lives. Pausch was born in 1960 in Baltimore and soon moved with his family to Columbia, Maryland where he would be raised. Fast-forward to his twenties, Pausch earned his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Brown University in 1982. Pausch later went on to earn a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 1988. Pausch actively sought after and worked towards his passion in computer science and during his studies at CMU he also managed to secure a position at Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre and Adobe Systems. The heavy work load was not a problem for Pausch as he was motivated from the hard work. “Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls aren’t there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want things.” Pausch’s entire career was centred around the values and lessons that he wanted to promote through his work as a professor, author and educator, such as his strong beliefs surrounding hard work and honesty. “You can’t get there alone. People have to help you, and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth, by being earnest.” His teachings proved to be influential on September 21, 2007 when Pausch was named “Person of the Week” on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson, and a second time in 2008 when he was listed in Time Magazine’s 100 World’s Most Influential People.
The Last Lecture – Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Pausch was, arguably, most popularly known for his last lecture titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dream.” He presented this speech on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University. Pausch was greeted to the stage with a standing ovation from the crowd. When Pausch humbly motioned for the crowd to take a seat, acknowledging the praise by saying “Make me earn it”, someone shouted “You did!” This demonstrates the importance and significance that Pausch has had on people through his teachings. During his last lecture, he decided to acknowledge the elephant in the room and discuss his pancreatic cancer and the fact that he had only a few months left to live. However, this did not stop him from having fun on stage and having a positive outlook on his life. He presented inspirational life lessons and values and did push ups on stage to show his strength despite his cancer. “If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.” Having fun was something that was extremely important to Pausch and it is something he encouraged others to remember to have. It is one of the reasons why his speech revolved around following your childhood dreams. “Never lose the childlike wonder. Show gratitude… Don’t complain; just work harder…Never give up.”
Pausch’s last lecture gained international attention and went viral on the internet. Within the first month of its release online, the hour long lecture was viewed over a million times. The popularity surrounding his last lecture gained the attention of the Pittsburgh Steelers who invited Pausch to join them during their practice after he mentioned in the last lecture that this was one of his childhood dreams. Pausch led others to follow their childhood dreams through, not only his influential and inspiring words, but through his own action as well.
Pausch died shortly after his last lecture on July 25, 2008 at the age of 47 in Chesapeake, Virginia where him and his wife had bought a house and believed they could make a good future for their children. After Pausch’s death, Jared Cohon, the President of Carnegie Mellon University, spoke of Pausch’s life and humanity, saying that his contributions to education and CMU were “remarkable and stunning.” He also stated that, in memory of Pausch and his mission of collaborating the arts with computer science, CMU would be building a pedestrian bridge that would connect Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science building to the Centre of the Arts. Steve Seabolt from Electronic Arts also stated that they would be creating a women’s memorial scholarship for computer science in Pausch’s memory in order to acknowledge the amazing work he put into counselling women in engineering and computer studies. Pausch will be remembered for his inspirational words and encouragements of following your dreams, always remaining true to your values, and remembering to continue to have fun throughout the entire course of your life and not limit it to childhood. “I think the only advice I can give you on how to live your life well is, first off, remember… it’s not the things we do in life that regret on our deathbed, it is the things we do not.”