People to Know: Marcos Bastian, Waldrop Engineering

Gamers, generally speaking, don’t have resumes, but if there were a LinkedIn for geeks, Marcos Bastian would be a prime connection.

“Atari, Intellivision, all the Odyssey games …” he says, laughing as he lists his earliest gaming conquests. Bastian is 46. It wasn’t even called gaming back then.

“I have always been horrible at everything that involves a ball,” the Brazilian-born planner and architect confesses. “All my hobbies have always been nerdy … I am a geek in a family of geeks.”

These days, Bastian serves as a planning manager for Waldrop Engineering, a recent pivot back to the private sector after about six years planning for Orange County. Until then, he’d been a designer.

“I realized I had a lot to learn about the public business of planning,” Bastian told GrowthSpotter. “There is a lot that happens between the moment a design leaves our table and when it gets approved. ... I have learned a whole new world and gained a lot of respect for the people who do this underappreciated work day in, day out.”

Bastian sees Waldrop as an interesting company, a smaller firm, a younger one, relatively new in Central Florida.

“It seemed like a great opportunity where I could make a real difference.”

It’s quite a leap from Bastian’s first-ever summer job, a geeky gig if ever there were. Summertime in Brazil, you see, falls around Christmastime.

“I would sit in a department store for about 12 hours playing video games to demonstrate for the parents coming in to buy them!” he laughs.

Even so, architecture seemed a career made for Bastian, who was a relentless doodler and drafter, even as a child. It was something that helped him focus; Bastian has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“I was undiagnosed as a child,” he explains, “but drafting and design was an escape for me, it was a way for me to really pay attention to things. In my childhood, I’d draw airplanes and cars. Lots of cartoons. The sorts of things kids draw. As I grew, it became buildings, then cities. Even today, if I’m in a meeting I’m always sketching something.”

Visiting the office of his father’s friend – an architect – reinforced his interest.

“At the time, all the designs were on paper – sections and elevations of these beautiful houses he was working on – and I thought that’s what I would become. The realizations stemmed simply from the fact that I could draw, nothing else. I was a good artist.” At age 16, he left his small town of Passo Fundo (“a college town about the size of Gainesville,” Bastian says) for architectural college in the larger city of Curitiba – known for public transportation and planning.

“I was dropped in the right place at the right time,” he says.

Bastian’s gaming background grew tendrils over time, skills that were more useful than he had used to collect power-ups in his youth. They also helped him meet Priscila, his wife.

“I was invited to become a part of a GIS [geographic information systems] research lab,” Bastian explains. Priscila was the manager. It was there, while working on an economic development project, that the pair met a visiting professor from the University of Florida who recommended the two earn their Masters’ in Gainesville.

Bastian had never considered leaving Brazil. But two years later, the couple – by then engaged – secured assistantships. They left for Gainesville for and made themselves at home all over Florida, exploring the state end to end – “the Everglades to Pensacola!” – in a beat-up Honda Civic.

During grad school, Florida was their oyster, but afterwards, they moved around – Denver (where Bastian found skiing; finally, a sport he was good at!), Austin – but eventually returned to the Sunshine State, where their friends were firmly ensconced.

Son, Kyle, 10, now accompanies them on vacations Bastian says are, as would be expected for an architect, often city-based. Boston. D.C. Chicago. New York.

And now, the geek – and his family of geeks – enjoys leveled-up geek fun that’s light years from Pong and Pitfall: 3-D printing.

At press time, he and Kyle had a Wolverine claw in the works.

“There’s a whole mechanical set-up where there’s a string that, as he closes his hand, it triggers a spring mechanism that releases the claw!” Bastian says.

The printer, clearly, is serving a higher purpose.

-- A.D. Thompson

Waldrop Engineering
Copyright © 2018, GrowthSpotter
74°