Sunayana’s Blog

Archive for September 2007

“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.”

Right from the “Make me earn it”, when the audience gave him a standing ovation before he started speaking, to the one-handed push ups he did on stage, Prof. Pausch did not for a minute allow anyone to feel pity for him. This was his last lecture, a farewell to Carnegie Mellon, his students, colleagues, friends. Prof. Pausch, now 47, has pancreatic cancer, and little more than a few months to live. He was a professor of the HCI Institute, the School of Design and the SCS in CMU. He was the director of CMU’s Alice programming language foundation, which is a 3D graphics language for teaching programming concepts to high school kids. He resigned from CMU to spend his last days with his family, his wife Jai and his three kids.

Prof. Pausch spoke on “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. Some highlights of his talk: Celebrating his wife’s birthday on stage, dark humor, the story about him becoming a journalist to be in 0 gravity, the brick walls, wanting to be Captain Kirk.

In Prof. Pausch’s honor, a bridge is going to be built between the SCS and the School of Design, symbolizing his work in bridging the two disciplines. CMU is also setting up a scholarship for undergraduate women in the SCS in honor of the work he has done for women in CS via Alice.

I personally am a fan of Alice and the idea behind it. I didn’t know about Prof. Pausch before I heard him speak, but now I know that we’re really going to be losing an amazing person, who lived life in the truest sense.

You can watch the talk (wmv version) here.