Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prof. Randy Pausch Passes Away....

Randy Pausch - inspiring teacher, builder of Alice, creator of ETA - passed away today in America. He had been suffering from Pancreatic cancer.

The first time I heard the name Pausch was in Tehelka (Oct., 2007), in an article by his former classmate turned writer, Dilip D’Souza. I wish I had not waited until Dilip came up with book review to download and read the much-celebrated lecture at Carnegie Mellon, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. It was a real eye-opener on the nuts & bolts of US leadership in science & technology.

Some excerpts -
  • About persuading NASA to take him on a zero-gravity flight - “have something to bring to the table”.
  • About Coach Graham Graham at football – “Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. You’ve got to get the fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn’t going to work”
  • “When you’re screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up.”
  • Power of enthusiasm – “When you’re only doing it for one play and you’re just not where you’re supposed to be,and freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, boy are you going to clean somebody’s clock for that one play.”
  • “When you do something young enough and you train for it, it just becomes a part of you”
  • 'Head-Fake' and playing football - “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
  • Head-fake or indirect learning. We don’t actually want our kids to learn football…we send them out to learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etcetera, etcetera..
  • Getting a reject letter from Walt Disney Imagineering – “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people.”
  • About his own impatience and temper - “When you’re pissed off at somebody and you’re angry at them, you just haven’t given them enough time”
  • Dealing with students who exceeded your expectations – “…you obviously don’t know where the bar should be,and you’re only going to do them a disservice by putting it anywhere.”
  • “One of the biggest gifts you can give somebody – the chance to show them what it feels like to make other people get excited and happy. I men that’s a tremendous gift.”
  • "Apologize when you screw up an focus on other people, not on yourself."
  • About hard work and getting an early tenure - "'Junior faculty say to me, you got tenure early. What's your secret?', I said, 'It's pretty simple. Call me any Friday night in my office at ten o'clock and I'll tell you."

References -

YouTube Recording of the Last Lecture - 1 hour 16 mts
OBITUARY Chicago Tribune - Randy Pausch, 47; terminally ill professor inspired many with his 'last lecture'
Personal Histories - Dilip D'Souza in Tehelka13 October 2007 - ‘Dying’s just another step through life, another chance to celebrate life’
THE LAST LECTURE - Book review by Dilip, Tehelka 12 July 2008
Dilip D'Souza's Blog
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