(written from a Production point of view)
Randy Pausch (23 October 1960 – 25 July 2008; age 47) was a professor of computer science who had a cameo part as a bridge crewmember aboard the USS Kelvin in Star Trek. Being a devoted Star Trek fan, he was invited by director/producer J.J. Abrams to visit the set and was given the chance to be in the new Star Trek movie. Pausch happily accepted and traveled to Los Angeles where he got his own custom-made uniform and was even given a line of dialogue ("Captain, we have visual!"). 
Born as Randolph Frederik Pausch, he was the co-founder of Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, where he got his PhD in computer science. He also served as director for the stage 3 research group and was among those who were involved in the development of the Alice software project. Pausch has written and co-authored five books and over fifty articles.
In September 2006, Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He began an aggressive cancer treatment which included a Whipple procedure and experimental chemotherapy but the attempts to halt his cancer proved unsuccessful. In August 2007, Pausch was informed that the cancer had metastasized to his liver and spleen, making his case terminal. He was given a prognosis of three to six months.
Pausch held his last lecture at CMU, entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," on 18 September 2007.  He had earlier moved with his wife Jai and his children Dylan, 6, Logan, 4, and Chloe, 2, to Chesapeake, Virginia, because he wanted his wife and children to be closer to and have the support of extended family.
His last lecture acquired international attention and news coverage, which led to his being named "Person of the Week" on ABC's World News. He made an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and co-wrote a book version of "The Last Lecture" with Wall Street Journal reporter Jeff Zaslow.
This mass media coverage is what attracted the attention of J.J. Abrams. Hearing of Pausch's condition and learning he was an avid Star Trek fan, Abrams sent a personal e-mail to Pausch inviting him to the Trek set. For his time on the film, Pausch received a $217.06 paycheck, which he donated to charity.
In May 2008 a PET scan showed that Pausch's cancer had spread to his lungs, the lymph nodes in his chest, and into his abdomen. In July 2008, it was announced that a biopsy had revealed the cancer to have progressed further than expected. On the morning of 25 July 2008, Pausch lost his battle against cancer at his home in Chesapeake. He was 47 years old and is survived by his wife Jai and his three children.