by Troy Krause, Special to KLGR
On May 15, 2023, Dharshan Shetty rolled into Redwood Falls, Minnesota – population 5,095.
That’s a far cry from his hometown of Mumbai, India – population 25,368,000.
To say Dharshan experienced a bit of a culture shock would be an understatement.
According to Dharshan, his initial perception of Redwood Falls was that of a small town with limited amenities, residents, and activities. This contrasted sharply with his urban upbringing.
“There were moments when it felt challenging due to the scarcity of essential groceries, a quieter social scene, and a lack of vibrant events,” he added. “The unfamiliar tranquility and the distance from friends posed their own set of adjustments. However, over time, I grew fond of the tranquility, lush surroundings, and the strong sense of community. The locals’ willingness to help and the beauty of the area have made a lasting positive impression.”
Dharshan is currently working at Daktronics in Redwood Falls in the role of manufacturing engineer student intern under the supervision of engineering manager Todd Nelson. His responsibilities have him primarily involved in supporting electronics assembly and surface mount technology.
“Along with assisting daily tasks and challenges, I have been working on improvement projects to help the company save resources and eliminate waste and help the people here in any way possible to make their jobs easier and better,” Dharshan explained. “I’ve enjoyed collaborating with diverse individuals within the plant, striving to enhance processes and products. The satisfaction that comes from contributing to improvements for others brings me immense joy.”
Prior to his internship at Daktronics in Redwood Falls, Dharshan was attending the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, N.Y. where he is pursuing a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering.
For Dharshan, the decision to study abroad was driven by the desire to gain a quality education, explore new horizons and not limit himself to boundaries.
“I joined Daktronics as a manufacturing engineering intern when I got this opportunity to work with one of the leading LED displays and scoreboard manufacturers during my master’s in manufacturing engineering at RIT, New York,” he added. “The opportunity to work with a company which had a mix of both surface mount technology, lean manufacturing and assembly line intrigued me, even though it meant transitioning from the East Coast to the Midwest.”
Prior to heading west to the middle part of the United States, Dharshan indicated he had heard various things about life in the Midwest – that it is very quiet, and the communities are very close-knit. He also had heard about the reality of limited exposure to cultural diversity.
For Dharshan, his time in Redwood Falls provided an opportunity to help broaden the cultural horizons of others.
According to Dharshan, “The most important thing for people to understand about me and my culture is the value we place on diversity, unity, and sharing. Cultural exchange enriches our lives, and embracing differences leads to stronger communities and deeper connections.”
Recently, Dharshan had a group of friends who came to visit him in Redwood Falls.
“Together, we came up with the idea of crafting a meal for some of my co-workers at Daktronics, intending to provide them with a glimpse into Indian cuisine and culture. We aimed for a wholesome experience, preparing a selection of dishes. We made Mumbai’s street-style appetizers, home-style curries, various types of bread, and desserts. It was an opportunity for cultural exchange, happy conversations, and a chance to share a taste of my background,” Dharshan explained.
Dharshan is working at Daktronics in Redwood Falls until Dec. 15, and then he will return to RIT to complete his master’s degree. In the long-term, he aspires to establish a fulfilling career in manufacturing engineering, contributing to innovative processes and products.
“I wish to work with a good team of people like I have here in Redwood, hoping to make someone’s work easier every day. Additionally, I hope to continue promoting cross-cultural understanding and collaboration,” added Dharshan. “My experience at Daktronics has been truly rewarding. The opportunity to contribute to manufacturing processes, collaborate with colleagues from various backgrounds, and immerse myself in a different way of life has broadened my perspective and enriched my skill set. The warmth and support of the Redwood Falls community have made this journey even more memorable.”