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Matt’s Journey into Auto Body Repair and Teaching

Building on a passion for working with his hands, Matt Omodt is now teaching the importance of Career and Technical Education to college students.

matt omodt standing in front of tool storage at his workplace

Growing up in Savage, Matt was mechanically inclined from a young age, often tinkering with various things around the house. During junior high, a camp that involved automotive classes sparked a passion to become a mechanic and get all the knowledge he could about how automobiles work and how to repair them. He was drawn to Burnsville High School (BHS) because they offered automotive classes, which ended up being a very impactful life choice. 

As a sophomore, Matt dove into classes centered around the trades, learning about construction, welding, drafting and audio electronics, but it was during his junior year that he found a passion for auto body repair. “I am really creative and I like the artistic part of auto body work,” said Matt.  While Matt says he did well in high school, he acknowledges that he did the best in the more hands-on courses, thanks to interesting projects and support from teachers like Mr. Russl Tesmer. 

At the time, it was more than just a high school class, they actually operated an auto shop out of the school, working on real cars owned by school staff.  “Matt was passionate about learning the trades and it was fun to see the pride gleaming from Matt's face after he had accomplished a quality repair on staff members' vehicles,” said Mr. Tesmer.

After he graduated from BHS in 2012, Matt chose to attend North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. During college, he never shied away from a new skill or challenge, and prepared himself to work relentlessly to achieve his goals. When he graduated in 2014, he set his sights on purchasing a house by age 21 and worked hard to achieve it. He moved to Fargo and got a job with Freightliner Trucks in auto body and collision repair eventually becoming the lead frame and engine technician. Additionally he worked on restorations, did custom paint jobs out of his home, worked in the commission automotive collision industry eventually specializing in heavy hits. 

While he was getting valuable experience in the field, he started chasing his desire to help teach and train the next generation, eventually going back to North Dakota State College of Science, this time as an instructor. “I started working on every certification and every training opportunity that I could to be positioned to be an instructor,” said Matt. “I always thought that Mr. Tesmer had the dream job and being in the industry made me want it more.”

Like his experience in high school, Matt and his students are operating an actual shop with real customers. After learning on donor cars from a local salvage yard for the first eight weeks, Matt’s students begin running a shop that charges lower prices than other shops, with the expectation that the work will take a little longer. Students get a chance to learn about sourcing parts, providing estimates and of course doing the work themselves. 

As a teacher, Matt is able to take the knowledge he gained throughout his education and time in the field and pass it along to his students. “Career and Technical Education is so important because it is not the typical school experience of learning, testing and moving on, it’s working with your hands and it encompasses so much.”

I thank Mr. Tesmer every time I talk to him for what he did in guiding me into my career and how he helped make me into the person I am today. All it takes is one person to positively affect our lives, and he was one of those people.

-Matt Omodt

Childhood

Matt was always tinkering with different things, trying to learn how they work.

Middle School

A camp experience that involved automotive work sparked an interest in auto repair.

10th Grade

Matt starts at BHS and begins taking as many hands-on classes as possible.

12th Grade

Serving as foreman of the school auto shop independent study, Matt knows that this is what he wants to do for his career.

Matt in the auto shop using a paint sprayer to paint a car door

2012

Matt graduates from BHS and enrolls at NDSCS to learn all he can while preparing for his career.

 

Matt in his graduation gown standing in his backyard

2014

After completing the two-year program at NDSCS and graduating with a 4.0, Matt starts working multiple jobs, never turning down a chance to learn a new skill.

2022

Years working in the field sparked an increased interest in passing his knowledge along, so Matt begins teaching at NDSCS and is tasked with recruiting students and teaching them in a real shop setting.

The Future

Matt hopes to continue to grow and develop as an educator and earn bachelor and masters degrees to eventually oversee a Career and Technical Education program.