I just watched last night on public television ‘The Last Lecture’ by Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch (1940-2008). It was a bit different than I expected. It gave me good enough reason to think to write this post.
Besides giving a stirring overview of what it is to achieve your dreams, I think it was as apt that I finally sat in on a lecture that actually was given by a caring professor. The lessons we were suppose to learn, and the realness of the man, came through in that a presentation. Probably why it got so much attention in a time where attention is misplaced.
Given his passing, and the work in virtual reality he did, along with many, many others he discussed humbly, the world did indeed become a less tolerable place. Now, I can here some say, “did his lecture mean that much (to you)?”
It meant that my usual scattered brain attention of watching a TV show, football game and other secondary tasks were put on hiatus on a Sunday night. That he intrigued me – even knowing I had heard of this story last year, as he sat down with Diane Sawyer, et. al. and discussed what he was doing leading up to his departure from this pebble called Earth. His work in Virtual Reality, while impressive, was not the reason for the interest. His path to a career in that field, his own learning and teaching methods, while important, were very tangential to the conversation he had with Carnegie Mellon staff, friends, colleagues and guests.
Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture
In the grander scheme, his life lives on through his connections and work done on Alice – a teaching aid in the VR world. From Alice:
“Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create
an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to
share on the web. Alice is a freely available teaching tool designed to be a
student’s first exposure to object-oriented programming. It allows students to
learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated
movies and simple video games. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g., people, animals, and
vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the
What I think would be different and unique would to insert Randy’s Last Lecture & Life Outlook into a VR program that teaches at a higher level. I think many students would gain a better relationship to their professors if somehow the experiences, teachings, lessons and philosophies of Pausch’s years were embedded into a VR program. It is possible…Randy would tell you that.