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Posted 4/13/2018

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By Robert Kidd


In first and second grades, Sacramento District’s Matt Valentine was good at drawing mazes. He was given some graph paper, started drawing floor plans and then found out the task was something people actually got paid to do! 

Born in Sacramento, Valentine was introduced to an early version of AutoCAD in a high school drafting class. He spent his first year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a student of architectural engineering. 

“I think I made it through one session of differential equations before I decided definitely to switch to architecture,” says Valentine with a smile. “So, my five-year degree took six years to complete.

“In my fourth year of architecture, we were offered an off-campus option and I went to Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architectural Consortium in Alexandria, Virginia,” he says. “I spent a year of my undergraduate studies there, really enjoyed it and was then accepted into their graduate program in architecture.”

Valentine completed his Masters of Architecture in 2008 and returned to California, just as the national economy stumbled. Job openings for newly-minted architects had dried up.

It wasn’t until the February 2009 Cal Poly architecture career fair that Valentine met Sacramento District architect Ralph Buell (now deceased). Valentine interviewed with Buell a few months later and accepted a job with Sacramento District in September 2009.

Valentine was design team lead for the first Sacramento District project accomplished using Revit, a building information modeling program, as a design tool in mid-2010. Since that time, Valentine has developed and taught Revit classes for USACE personnel in the Omaha District and base civil engineering personnel at Edwards Air Force Base.

Valentine volunteered to serve as project manager for the Sacramento District Operational Management Board (OMB) for 2018. The OMB is the organization of district branch chiefs that functions alongside the district’s Corporate Board.

“It’s an interesting group that I would not otherwise have met,” says the architect. “Once I became an active part of the OMB team, I found out that all of these internal organizations within the district are much richer and accomplish a much wider variety of tasks than I had expected.”

“Only a month or two into this OMB assignment, I was facilitating a Project Delivery Team 101 course,” says Valentine. “It was a fun challenge with a lot of moving parts.”

In an obtuse salute to TV journalist Barbara Walters, we asked Valentine: If the OMB were a fruit, what kind would it be?

“Pomegranate … you have to figure out the right way to open it,” Valentine answers without skipping a beat. “I heard you have to do that under water … not to say that’s how you open up the OMB. 

 “You have to find the right way to approach different personalities in order to accommodate and support everybody to the best of your ability,” he adds. “I like to reach out for good opportunities that I think will help me grow professionally.”

In February 2018, Valentine helped represent Sacramento District at the Cal Poly architecture career fair – the event where Valentine was introduced to career possibilities in the Corps just nine years ago.

Architecture Cal Poly military construction sacramento district U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)