Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture

Randy Pausch is a professor of virtual reality and video game design at Carnegie Mellon University. He’s the creator of the amazing Alice 3D programming language for kids. He has three kids of his own, 5, 2, and 1. Professor Pausch is also dying of pancreatic cancer.
Last week he gave his “Last Lecture” at CMU, telling his students what he’d learned in his life:


If you’re a subscriber to the Wall St Journal online you can read Jeffrey Zaslow’s moving piece about the lecture there, including video. Pausch’s own home page is here.

What an beautiful story and an amazing person. This is what being a teacher – no, being a human – is all about.

16 Replies to “Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture”

  1. The person on TWiT who said ‘I hate to plug the army’ needs to explain that remark.

  2. Not to knock the guy or anything, he has done a lot of great work. I just don’t see what all the hype is about Alice. After taking a course about it in HS I say that program is the most annoying program anyone has ever made. It’s incredibly low poly, unwieldy to get characters to do anything. It runs in Java which is the little programming language that couldn’t and sucks all your resources even when you aren’t using it and won’t go away till you restart.I may change my tune however when they move to the Sims character model, but I’m sure the Java aspect will still make the program suck.
    Once again Jeffrey Zaslow has done amazing work, and I’m sure the Alice that he originally designed was amazing, but now-a-days it’s just a clunker of a program that kills system resources.

  3. Cancer is still a horrible disease. A lot of people don’t seem to realize how many young productive people it takes every year. I am a survivor myself. I was 32 when I was diagnosed. I still question the fact that I made it and some of the guys I was in treatment with didn’t. Two really great guys in the hospital with me didn’t make it. Both had three very young children also. I didn’t have any kids. Thirteen years later, I still think about the fact that I made it and those two great fathers didn’t. There’s no rhyme or reason at all to who survives and who doesn’t.

  4. Thanks Pawnbroker for the insight from a cancer survivor.
    I don’t know what the first two posts here has anything to do with Leo’s topic at hand “Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture”.

  5. Zeke, you’re thinking from a geek’s perspective. Alice’s is whole purpose is to teach the fundamentals of programming while not actively teaching them programming. Watch the lecture… Alice is pitched to the kids as a way to *tell stories* not how to code.
    Anyway. Truly inspirational and truly moving. God speed, Dr. Pausch.

  6. I just finished listening to “You killed my Cow” and I have to point out one thing. No one is forcing anyone to buy the phone. When the iPhone came out, everybody was told that it only runs on this network and it doesn’t have 3rd party apps. DON’T LIKE IT – SO DON’T BUY IT. But if you do, play by the rules.
    Think of the iPhone as a car. If you go and put the wrong gas in it, just because you want to use leaded gas, then the engine seizes, you are out of luck. If you go and take the engine out of your car and then put another one in from a different manufacturer, you can’t expect to get service.
    The whole idea that you decided to do something that they said you shouldn’t then bitch about it is just plain wrong.
    If the iPhone was open to 3rd party apps from day 1 and the iPhone crashed everytime something went wrong, the way my Qphone does, you would be slamming apple for putting out a phone that doesn’t work as well as it should.

  7. I am amazed that anyone who watches this (or even reads your entry describing it) can post anything but, “thank you.”

  8. I used to listed to TWiT every week until about three months ago. At that point the number of plugs for friends of the show had reached an annoying level. I downloaded last weeks show and heard very little news but plenty of info about dltv or revision3 or some other friend of the host(s).
    I have no problem with you including ads from sponsors but the repeated mentioning of your friend’s’ business interests has put me off.

  9. Leo, thank you for posting that. I’d seen the last bit of a news segment about it, but didn’t see enough of it to get his name, which made it hard to Google. Even seeing the little bit I did see, it was enough to make me I hope that, facing the same circumstances, I could be as grounded and outward-focused as Pausch is.
    Cancer is a ghastly disease, and pancreatic cancer is often especially brutal. Anyone who exhibits this kind of human grace in the face of it is someone we could all emulate.
    Thanks again for the post, Leo.

  10. This was on the CBS Evening News last week, on Steve Hartman’s Assignment America.

  11. Some lessons from Randy Pausch’s last lecture that especially moved me:
    1. Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
    2. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
    3. Never lose the child-like wonder.
    4. If we do something which is pioneering, we will get arrows in the back. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.
    5. Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
    6. If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, and the dreams will come to you.
    Check out the tribute quiz on the lecture at http://www.mystudiyo.com : you can add your own questions at the end of the quiz.

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