Friday, July 25, 2008

Thanks, Randy ...

Today is the day we all knew was approaching, hoping it would recursively wait until tomorrow in the same way Groundhog Day worked -- Randy Pausch (photo left), CMU professor and 2008 SIGCSE Award winner, died overnight from complications due to pancreatic cancer. He has been a very impressive character in computing, and a fantastic representative for all of us in computing and education, especially after the wonderful and inspiring "Last Lecture" talk last Fall 2007 and book.

More impressively, Randy contributed significantly in many ways, from the Alice project at both UVA and CMU, to "forcing by sheer will" the bridges between computing and art/entertainment (hence the SIGCSE 2008 talk by Dennis Cosgrove, and the Randy Pausch's Memorial Footbridge at CMU).

I met Randy at a few SIGCSEs, but I had my deepest conversation (about 60 seconds, he was really energetic) in 2003 at Reno, he was wearing the Mad Hatter hat from "Alice in Wonderland." He was preparing for the conference Alice Tea Party, showing how to engage novice programmers with storytelling and immediate feedback (e.g., "hey, the arm flew off the body, now that's feedback!"). I am sad today, but look forward to seeing him in the next Star Trek film, that will also be bittersweet.

Alice will continue to develop and is a wonderful legacy (I just used it again myself in the spring for a cs0 course and a summer outreach workshop for K-12 teachers). Thoughts and prayers to his family in this tough time, and thanks Randy.

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Dan said...

I noticed Randy's book at the local book store. I skimmed thru the book, it reminded me of my son who passed away in 2006 of liver cancer. I bought the book and I have almost completed reading. He reminded me so much of my son the courage and the wonderful attitude in the fight for their lives. Both had hope of better days.

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