Nelson Mora, PE
“When it comes to transportation improvements, it’s all about the user experience. You have to be cognizant of how your work will impact the public.”
Logical, mathematically inclined, and analytical. These are some words that might come to mind when one thinks of an engineer. But for Nelson Mora, you’d have to include: artistic, personable, and empathetic, too. The University of Florida graduate started his career at Gannett Fleming 12 years ago in roadway design. Since then, he’s shifted toward transportation planning and now oversees all staff, pursuits, and project delivery related to planning projects in Florida.
“The engineering curriculum doesn’t teach you people skills,” Nelson added. But he knows that relating to people by communicating effectively is one of the most important aspects of his job. “I try to humanize our transportation projects through thoughtful verbal and visual communication and plenty of listening.”
We asked Nelson a few questions to get to know him:
What could you give a 30-minute presentation about with no preparation?
Visualization. Effective communication is key to advancing engineering concepts, and I rely on 3D renderings to do so. I create these on programs like Lumion and Sketchup. Visuals help people grasp ideas, so I use these renderings to define what a street and site improvements might look like with bicycle lanes, streetscape, buildings, and so on. I find that they’re easier to digest for all those involved in the planning of a project, whether the public or professional peers alike.
What’s the best part of living in Miami?
The fruit trees! I grew up in Cuba and moved to the U.S. when I was 12, and I love that we’re able to grow mango and guava trees in our backyard like we used to in the Caribbean. The weather is nice, too, despite the seldom spoken of hot, humid, and rainy Florida summers.
What do you see for the next generation of engineers at Gannett Fleming?
I believe the next generation will be more emotionally intelligent and stronger communicators. They will have a better understanding of how important it is to be inclusive of different viewpoints and work cohesively with people from all walks of life.
I hear you have a talent for baking cakes. Tell us about that!
I watched the food network a lot in college – from Guy Fieri to Cake Boss. I like creating things, so I started baking and decorating my own cakes with homemade fondant. I once made a cake that looked like a jet fighter plane, and I also baked my oldest daughter’s first birthday cake. I used to make them for friends and even sold a few!
Speaking of your daughter, let’s talk family.
Between my two- and four-year-old daughters and my wife, we’re a tight bunch. We like to travel and go on road trips to North Carolina and east Tennessee, and we, hopefully, have a cross country trip coming soon. My kids speak Spanish, and we’d like to keep it that way for as long as we can, but my wife and I speak English and Spanish – more like Spanglish!
Who’s someone you really admire?
I’m a huge fan of Robin Williams and Carl Sagan. In the words of the latter, “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” We need not worry so much about our legacy, our pride, our stuff, but perhaps live each moment for the mere sake of the experience regardless of how insignificant it may appear. Because we really have just that – a fraction of a moment in time.