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FIRST is an unforgettable experience for future engineers

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Matt Kallerud


FIRST Alum Matt Kallerud is from FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1714 “MORE Robotics” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which he joined in the high school team’s first year; he says it was an extremely valuable and unforgettable experience. He later graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of California Davis. Matt now works as a civil/environmental engineer at Carollo Engineers, where he designs water and wastewater treatment plants. 

What is your favorite FIRST memory?
There are so many! Do I have to pick just one? My first year was our team’s first year, so there were a lot of very long nights during build season trying to figure things out together as a team. Our hard work eventually paid off after winning Rookie All Star and a berth to the FIRST Championship in St. Louis! I can’t decide between that, winning our first match (as the driver!), or long bus rides to the competitions (where another teammate taught me how to solve the Rubik’s Cube). My entire FIRST experience was unforgettable and extremely valuable to me.

You’ve had mentors, or mentored others, through FIRST; what advice do you have to share with others?
Question everything: the first answer you get isn’t always the right answer and is rarely ever the best answer. If something doesn’t make sense to you, question it until you understand it.

What did you do after becoming a FIRST Alum?
Two teammates and I went on to the Milwaukee School of Engineering; one of them joined me in the mechanical engineering program. During the summer after my sophomore year, I worked as an intern at the NASA Langley Research Center. I helped investigate programming challenges on the electron beam freeform fabrication machine (EBF3). During my junior and senior years and college, I worked as an intern at Rockwell Automation (a FIRST Strategic Partner and sponsor of Team 1714) working with their power monitoring equipment.

After getting my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I attended graduate school at the University of California – Davis for civil & environmental engineering. During graduate school, I worked full-time for over a year at Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, a wastewater treatment plant in Martinez, California, where I helped performed a pilot study on an advanced treatment process. After graduating with my master’s degree from UC Davis, I got a job at Carollo Engineers where I design water and wastewater treatment plants.

What are some technologies or innovations that you think will change the way we find or use water in the future?
Water reuse is the future; every year, more water is being recycled. The better the technologies become to clean water more efficiently, the more of it we’re going to be able to reuse. This will help communities that don’t have lakes or rivers and get their water from the ground. If they pump too much water out of the ground, the ground can literally sink! It’s happened lots of places all around the world.

Learn more about Matt’s career and his thoughts on protecting our water supply on the FIRST LEGO League blog.

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