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California Dreams Entice Engineer to Leave India for Advanced Studies at Fresno State

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Ninad Doke will graduate Friday with a master's degree from the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State. (Fresno State News)
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Ninad Doke always dreamed of moving to California. In 2019, he graduated from the University of Mumbai in India with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He began working as a structural engineer, but he still yearned to see a different part of the world.

In 2021, Doke decided to act on his dreams and applied to a graduate program at Fresno State that would teach him management while providing technical experience and theoretical knowledge. He arrived in Fresno in January of 2022 with only a little money in his pocket and facing the challenge of living alone.

“For 24 years, I was used to living with my big family and this was the first time I would do anything on my own,” Doke said. “I could have lived an easy life back home, but then I would only be able to imagine what life would be like here, and now I’m exploring and learning so much.”

Doke completed a master’s degree in construction management this semester and is preparing to walk across the stage as a Fresno State graduate at the fall Lyles College of Engineering ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Satellite Student Union.

Although he had a tough first semester, Doke didn’t hold back on immersing himself in the Department of Construction Management. He accepted a job as a teaching associate and led outdoor construction labs and a lab for SketchUp, a 3D modeling computer-aided design program.

“Construction in India is very different from construction in the United States, and my work here helped me understand the differences in the styles of structures and also introduced me to software like Bluebeam, which is not available in India,“ Doke said.

Interest in Emerging Technologies

Doke’s interest in emerging technologies in construction led him to conduct research into virtual and mixed reality under the guidance of Dr. Wei Wu, chair of the Department of Construction Management at Fresno State. Doke was also the secretary for the Fresno State Digital Innovation and Research Club, which worked with technology like virtual reality, robotics and 3D printing.

“This aspect of construction excites me a lot since I’m a very tech-savvy person,” Doke said.

For his final project, Doke investigated the use of extended reality in construction and how such innovations transform business processes and improve the overall efficiency of construction projects.

“With firsthand information gathered via his internship and semi-structured interviews with subject matter experts from leading construction companies in this country, his research contributes to bridging the gaps between state-of-the-art practices and higher education construction management education,” Wu said.

Internship Leads to Full-Time Job

Doke completed an internship this past summer with Webcor Builders in San Francisco. For three months, he said he lived in a house on top of a hill where he could see the entire San Francisco skyline from a balcony.

He said that it was during those moments of looking out at the city that he did not regret moving to the United States.

“Ninad sets an example for our master’s students, especially international students, that through hard work, self-motivation and effective communication, you will succeed regardless of your background,” Wu said.

Doke will return to San Francisco in February as a full-time project engineer for Webcor Builders. His role will focus on the company’s tech side of construction.

“The Lyles College of Engineering and Department of Construction Management saw something in me and consistently provided me with opportunities,” Doke said. “They never let me down, and I am thankful for all of the experience that I gained as a student.”

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