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Disney Exec Wins Award Named For 'Last Lecture' Author Pausch

Ed Catmull is the first winner of the award, which will be given annually by Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center.
Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull will receive the first Randy Pausch Prize from Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center.

Catmull will also present the keynote address at the seventh International Conference on Entertainment Computing (ICEC) on Sept. 26.

The award is named for Randy Pausch, who wrote "The Last Lecture," a best-selling book that outlines how he achieved his childhood dreams and found joy in enabling others to achieve theirs. Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist, died of pancreatic cancer July 25 at age 47.

Pausch's passion for life and creativity brought together technology experts and artists. He co-founded the ETC. The prize in Pausch's memory honors entertainment industry experts who embody his interdisciplinary spirit.

"We couldn't think of a more fitting person to receive the first Pausch Prize than Ed Catmull," Don Marinelli, co-founder and executive producer of the ETC, said in an announcement. " Eleven years ago, when the ETC was just a vision that Randy and I were trying to make a reality, Ed generously shared with us his thoughts about how to prepare students for the new world of interactive digital media. His suggestions, including the idea of having everyone in the program study improvisational acting, were priceless. He helped us make the ETC a place where right-brained and left-brained individuals can work together successfully."

Catmull co-founded Pixar, which produced "Toy Story," "The Incredibles," and "Wall-E." He also created the computer graphics laboratory at the New York Institute of Technology and the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Those three groups host some of the most academically respected researchers in computer graphics and have produced significant advances in computer graphics.

Catmull is credited as an architect of the RenderMan rendering software, which just marked its 20th anniversary. RenderMan has been used in 44 of the last 47 films nominated for Academy Awards for their visual effects.

Catmull has received four Academy Awards, including one for lifetime contributions through computer graphics and one for technical achievement. He also received the IEEE's John von Neumann Medal for contributions to computer graphics and a pioneering use of computer animation in motion pictures. Catmull earned a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Utah.

Pausch Prize winners will receive a $2,500 cash award and present a lecture at Carnegie Mellon.

Catmull will accept his prize and present the Pausch lecture at 9:15 a.m., Sept. 26 in McConomy Auditorium in Carnegie Mellon's University Center, where Pausch gave his famous "last lecture."