If you were only given a few more months to live, how would you spend the remaining time you have left?

The Last Lecture

After being notified of his pancreatic cancer relapse, Randy Pausch realized that he had to be ready to accept the fact that he would soon die and leave behind his dear family, friends, co-workers, students, and his life. Yet, he did not feel sorry for himself or blame anyone. Randy Pausch understood that it would not serve him well to remain unhappy for the few months left in his life. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” Thus, he tried to devote his remaining time to his wife and three young children as well as to his students and co-workers. He wanted to leave a legacy behind for people, especially his children.

Randy Pausch was a professor of Computer Science and Human Computer Interaction at the Carnegie Mellon University. Every professor had to create his or her last lecture but, for Randy Pausch, this meant something else; it was literally his last lecture. After much debate over whether delivering the speech was the right thing to choose over spending time with his family, Randy Pausch decided on the topic of “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”.

With the increasing popularity of the Last Lecture, he was invited to the Oprah show to talk about it.

Randy Pausch delivered the presentation with the skill and enthusiasm of a master teacher. Little did he know, his speech would have such a powerful impact for his audiences, it would later become a legacy. He commenced by stating that he was not there to talk about his cancer, but to encourage others to pursue his or her personal goals. Randy Pausch shared some of his own dreams: to become an NFL player, to experience zero gravity, and to meet Captain Kirk from Star Trek. He achieved his dreams of being in zero gravity and was even featured in Star Trek. He explained that although he did not become a football player, the effort he devoted to the sport strengthened him as a person. He then proceeded to encourage others to pursue their childhood dreams, for one cannot know what opportunities may be awaiting them. His speech inspired many people to work hard at pursuing their life dreams.

His lecture was so inspiring that he was invited to other schools across the country as well as shows like Oprah and Good Morning America to give his speech again. He co-wrote The Last Lecture, which soon became a New York’s best seller, with Jeffrey Zaslow, who unfortunately passed away at age 53 in 2012.

Carnegie Mellon University

Randy gave his Last Lecture speech on September 8, 2007. It would soon become a viral inspiration.

As a professor of the Department of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Randy Pausch worked with pupils and encouraged them to use their imagination.. He was also the director of the research group for Alice, a program created by one of his pupils, Caitlin Kelleher. He co-founded CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) with Don Marinelli in 1998. Randy Pausch taught that class for the next ten years. What was extremely unique about this class was that it brought students from the art and technology field together. In this course, students are required to build their own virtual world and express themselves using their creative skills. Randy Pausch helped students showcase their creativity as well as their leadership skills.


Pirates of the Carribean is a popular virtural attraction at Disney Quest in Orlando Florida today.

When Randy Pausch was a young boy, he had been to the Disney parks and having been so inspired and joyous himself, he wanted to be part of the team that dreamed up and designed the magic in the parks. In 1995, he fulfilled one of his life-long dreams: he became a Walt Disney Imagineer. As part of his sabbatical from his university teaching position, he joined the Imagineering Virtural Reality Studio for six months. During his time as a Disney Imagineer, he was part of the team that created Disneyworld's Magic Carpet Ride, based on the movie, Aladdin, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Both attractions, which are now part 0f Disney's DisneyQuest, gave Randy the opportunity to employ his knowledge of virtual reality while achieving his childhood dream. After his six months, Disney offered Randy a full time position with Disney, but he decided to return to his "true calling", teaching.

"Randy Pausch lived his life inspiring his students, colleagues and co-workers. Now, the vitality and energy he brought to his classroom lives on and serves as an inspiration to millions of people whom he never had the chance to meet." - Disney President and CEO, Bob Iger.



Alice Project

Alice was designed to engage students in learning computer science through fun storytelling and interactive methods as shown in this product.

Randy Pausch's enthusiasm for teaching and computer science led to the creation of an innovative educational software tool, which would open the doors to students of all ages to learn computer programming, known as "Alice". With over a decade spent developing it, the Alice program is said to be a revolutionary approach to programming. Randy, himself, said that this project might have been his greatest contribution to computer science education. Before he died in 2008, Randy was able to see a rough version of the new and enhanced Alice 3. Since then, the Alice Project has grown in both popular use and as a software. In 2008, an estimated ten to fifteen percent of U.S colleges and universities, and even a number of high schools and middle schools have used Alice 2.0 in their curriculum. That same year, Randy Pausch received the SIGCSE award, which is presented to a person who has made a significant and lasting contribution to computer education, mainly due to this work in developing "Alice". Randy wanted to share his love of computer science and learning with others, and through the Alice Project he was able to leave a legacy.

Rather than the traditional textbook and complicated coding that computer programming usually follows, Alice teaches the complex study through storytelling and interactive gaming in a 3D environment. Students create a virtual world of their own, animating objects, populating their worlds, and adding details of their choice. Alice 2.0 called Storytelling Alice, was created by Caitlin Kelleher, one of Randy Pausch's students, which was aimed at younger students, namely middle and high school students. It taught them programming in a story-based tutorial. Alice gives students the opportunity to easily understand the relationship between the code and the animated objects. In summary, Alice has become a revolutionary educational tool to teach computer programming to all ages.

The fun and silliness included in learning computer science with Alice!


Other Lectures/Appearances

• Speech on Time Management on November 27, 2007 at University of Virginia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blaK_tB_KQA

• Gave a speech at the commencement ceremony and the School of Computer Science’s diploma ceremony on May 18, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATiyfX1I45I

• Appeared on Good Morning America Show on May 19, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVFmFof6aXg

Randy's public service announcement for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in order to raise awareness for cancer and support cancer research in 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EvhkBUnxeQ

• Building Virtual World Lecture in 2005. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npl1ok2JONY&feature=gv

• 50 years of Computer Science Innovation lecture on April 2006. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPjqr5VSB4E&feature=gv

• Randy Pausch was invited by the director of Star Trek, J.J. Abrams to play a role on Star Trek in 2007.

• Appeared on Oprah in October 2007; there he met Dr. Oz who confessed that Randy Pausch serves as a hero to him and it was because of people like Randy that he went into the medical field. http://www.veoh.com/watch/v1428285dxWa87Kp