It's 1998, and there is a burgeoning video-game craze. Sony, Sega, Nintendo, and others are fighting for their piece of a growing market worth more than $6 billion annually. "Shouldn't we be responding to this?" wonders Don Marinelli, a Carnegie Mellon drama professor. He knows the answer.
So does the university. Who will head a new entertainment technology endeavor? Video games are an eclectic mix of art and science, and no one professor seems "right" to lead the proposed center. So, two are picked: Marinelli and Randy Pausch, an associate professor in computer science. Together, they cofound what will become the Entertainment Technology Center.
"It was like an arranged marriage," says Marinelli. "They just stuck us together." Unaware of what exactly the other does, Pausch half-joking, half-serious tells Marinelli: "All I know is that you drama people hug a lot. Don't touch me." During the next six years, Marinelli and Pausch share an office, become friends, and ultimately become known as the Comet and the Tornado. Marinelli is dubbed the Tornado by Pausch, for his whirlwind of energy and creativity; and Pausch is called the Comet, for what Marinelli says best describes Pausch as "bursting upon the scene like an astral body...illuminating his secrets for living life to the fullest."
Today, the world is familiar with the Comet, who in 2007, despite his terminal illness, gave "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," which became a popular YouTube video and led to the best-selling book, The Last Lecture (Hyperion, 2008).
Now, the Tornado has released his book, The Comet & the Tornado: Reflections on the Legacy of Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture & the Creation of Our Carnegie Mellon Dream Fulfillment Factory (Sterling, 2010). In it, Marinelli recounts his journey from his early days in drama through his years with Pausch building the ETC into its worldwide expansion in the United States and overseas—offering a master's degree that "combines technology and fine arts to create new processes, tools, and vision for storytelling and entertainment."
—Nick Ducassi (A'10)