East West

In 2006, San Dieguito Academy (SDA) alumni Matt Golman attended the Los Angeles Regional and spent the next six months pestering his physics teacher to start an FRC team. Two years later, FRC 2102 Team Paradox became a regional finalist. Matt graduated from SDA and then earned degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Studio Art. Paradox is now 60 members strong, and since 2016, Matt has spent over 1200 hours mentoring students in robot design, fabrication, and aesthetics. 

Matt is youthful enough to connect with and inspire, yet experienced enough to be respected by students and mentors alike. David Salzmann describes Matt with admiration: “Matt…teaches me as I encounter problems instead of forcing problems onto me, so I know why it matters to me. He’s never taken over the computer or done things for me, and I think that’s what makes him not only a great mentor but a great teacher.”

Matt implemented regular design reviews during offseason and build season, teaching students how to present and communicate ideas and concerns. He also taught students how to conduct their own design reviews. He didn’t just lend his technical expertise–Mingwei Yeoh, a rookie who participated in the reviews said this about Matt: “Matt bonds with people even though it’s freshman year and they’re kind of scared. He makes students feel welcome by cracking jokes or telling funny stories.” Matt is remarkable in that he understands the FIRST world and the professional world on a deep level and he understands our hesitation or fears because, well, he felt the same way not so long ago. It’s this kind of personal connection that inspires students to stick with STEAM after they graduate.

Matt introduced the pre-season tradition of ‘Mock-Kickoff’, where the team uses an old FRC challenge and spends 3-6 days in a full ‘dress rehearsal’ of build season. Matt organized five of these events over the past two years and worked one-on-one with student leadership to ensure the actual kickoff ran smoothly. This initiative has directly impacted more than 70 students and many generations of Paradoxians to come. 

The most impactful contribution Matt has dedicated to the FIRST community has been the SD2RA District Robotics Workshops. Matt introduced, coordinated, and taught at a series of seven workshops, ranging from topics like Pneumatics to Electronics. More than 30 students and mentors from the four FRC teams in our school district attended each workshop. Joshua Pawlak describes Matt: “[He’s] super knowledgeable about design stuff, I mean that’s what he does for his career. When we ask him a question, he always has an answer. It might not be the best answer or the one we eventually go with, but it always gets us thinking.” 

We all know Matt is exceptional–not just because he’s our founding father, but because his passion for science and engineering has inspired each of us to ask more questions, learn a little more, communicate better, and support one another as best we can.