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Matt Metzger

Senior Civil Engineer

Matt with his wife
Matt at St Anthony Falls in the Twin Cities
While studying art and civil engineering at North Dakota State University, Matt witnessed firsthand the frequent flooding of the Red River of the North. The struggles that resulted as well as the self-sufficient and self-reliant nature of the people it affected left a lasting impression on him. Because of these experiences, he’s found it rewarding to work on Barr projects that help reduce the flood risk for residents of Fargo-Moorhead and other regional communities.

“Economic and population growth, climate change, and urbanization all put pressure on systems,” said Matt, “and with growing cities, the order of magnitude is so much bigger. I see things as interconnected, rather than operating in isolation. Understanding the interaction of the natural and the built environment more systematically leads to better decisions and more resilient systems. Water, energy, materials, transportation, waste, industry, agriculture—they’re all connected in complex, often wasteful ways.”

To that end, Matt returned to school to work on a master’s degree in sustainable systems engineering at University of Wisconsin–Madison. He also understands that you need a creative team that wants to collaborate and pursue smart design solutions.

“It’s important that project teams draw people from multiple disciplines to rethink how to solve problems,” said Matt. “Asking the right questions and using the right tools bring out the best value for the client and public. On a recent residential street project, we rethought the functions of the traditional street to optimize the use of stormwater runoff, rather than treating it as wastewater. This green infrastructure approach reduces the overall life-cycle cost and impact of the reconstruction while multiplying the benefits.”

It’s all about how details interact with the larger picture and using that knowledge to make decisions to move the project toward better value, efficiency, and balance.

“I want to create long-term value in communities,” said Matt. “For me, that means thinking creatively and systematically using science and engineering to understand both the small and big picture.”

A visual and artistic person, his creativity extends to his off hours as well. In addition to painting and drawing, Matt likes to create elaborate cooking experiments with his wife Kate and make new dishes. He also keeps a backyard vegetable garden.

“I like growing things that make it to the table,” said Matt. “I can vegetables and make my own salsa and hot sauce, sometimes using new combinations of peppers and whatever the garden gives me.”