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In 2006, professor Randy Pausch was diagnosed with a terminal case of pancreatic cancer. The next year, he stepped in front of an audience of hundreds of students and colleagues to deliver a last lecture called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." Video of the lecture became a phenomenon on the Internet, captivating millions with its upbeat delivery and at-times darkly funny tone, and it was later adapted into a bestselling book and numerous television appearances that reached millions more.

Pausch taught computer science, human-computer interaction and design for two decades at Carnegie Mellon University, where he co-founded its Entertainment Technology Center. He founded the Alice software project -- a free, educational programming language -- and did sabbaticals at Walt Disney Imagineering and Electronic Arts. As an expert in user interface design, he also consulted with Google and Xerox PARC.