Matthew S. Butler, Blue Springs High 2009 graduate, and Fort Osage Automotive program graduate, has received a top award from the University of Central Missouri.

Matthew is the kind of student that didn’t get perfect grades, wasn’t starring on a sports team. Although having played football and basketball, he could have gone in that direction. His real love was working with things, figuring out how they worked.

When he was 7, we bought him a robot for Christmas, built for someone age 12 and up. Now this was a $100 walking robot, with many cool features. He spent many hours straight, and assembled it with no help from anyone. He showed me how it worked, and less than a day later, he had it all torn apart and was using the parts to make other things. I never saw that robot again.

He raced small motor cars locally and when they broke, he would work with the older racers and learned how to fix those tiny engines. (No one could turn down helping this young kid!) He mowed for money, built decks and fences, but Blue Springs neighbors probably remember his custom built snow remover. He modified a lawn mower to have a homemade blade lifted by pulleys and ropes to get through the snow.

What to get Matt for a gift? Well, tools of course. Before he was 16, he had bought, with his own money, three cars that he had rebuilt and sold. Of course, he had 4-wheelers and modified go-carts along the way. He has a curiousity about him. He was never shy about asking for help from neighbors or relatives when he was stuck or watching what they were doing.

He was often seen in a wheelchair – doing wheelies, chillin’ – it was where he pondered his designs. A young mother had her car stolen and he mowed to help raise money for her. He found someone that donated a car to her as well as helping raise money for her to license it.

Going to Blue Springs High, there was an opportunity to become part of the Fort Osage automotive program. There, he was able to get formal training on cars and the computer knowledge required for newer engines. Mr. Lee took a great deal of personal interest in his students. He took his students to colleges of different sizes, and trade schools. He talked to me about Matt and his future often.

Graduated in 2009 from Blue Springs High and the Fort Osage Automotive program, he was accepted at UCM in the automotive program – one of the top three programs in the country. He took to that program instantly. For volunteer work, he served on the board of directors for the Society of Automotive Engineers program. Through SAE, Matt worked on the university’s race car, repairing, designing, finding sponsers, raising money, and training other students. As a highlight, their race car won first place! First time UCM finished that high.

Graduating in May, he earned the Top Student Service Award in the automotive category. After working through high school and college at O’Reilly, he will leave his job as the night manager, and has his dream job at Central Power in Liberty.

Written by his proud mom, Gaylene Morse