Though Samuel Florman's 1997 book feels flawed, perhaps by an understandable reluctance to seem too tough on professional peers, gentle readers will find many passages of unusual clarity. One might suspect that Florman had to suffer substantial within guild whining in the wake of The Civilized Engineer? The Introspective Engineer is less fierce, more carefully engineered to delight obvious clients & minimize comfort to doubters of technology. Florman flirts with panegyric, dwells on the certainly wonderful aspects of technology, may rush as he covers the complications. This might interfere with message, contribute to the trumped up we/they fight which Mr. Florman has so eloquently resisted for so long. He opens with near-jingoistic speculation about maintaining heavy American control in a now, largely due to comm tech advances, truly global technology marketplace which simply will not tolerate our dominance forever, but mitigates this throughout the body of the book by stressing practical need for sensible cooperation (Florman knows the usual historical consequences of extreme/obvious concentrations of wealth/power). Visiting Egypt, he acknowledges Aswan as problem, but goes on perhaps too long/hopefully about retro-patching damages done (excessive fear of "paralysis" = unnecessary failures of timely restraint?). Florman is very fair on damming/burning the Amazon, calculating the downside while properly stressing limitations of our own rights to deny others liberties we have already taken. He can seem too easy, now, on university engineering departments as tech training centers, but alert readers may also catch him still seething sweetly, still fighting for balance & breadth. Per Florman, Kent M. Black (then CEO of Rockwell International), a speaker at a 1993 ASEE conference, took a practically prevailing, if rarely openly stated, extreme position, essentially asking assembled engineering educators to not confuse/pollute his future minions with art or history knowledge or human communication skills. Black suggested that the ideal graduating engineer can pick up wider wisdom (develop personal interests?) later, after/between work, somehow. Perhaps via teevee? Difficult to guess. My own father, a land grant university mechanical engineer, was a bit lax in this zone, over his years. Others may do better. It is possible. But entry into an increasingly technical workplace typically leads to far more opportunity/incentive to learn additional tech than to ever learn any art or history at all. Florman elects not to bite, but he does preach a nice sermon:
"The problem is that some people, like Mr. Black (and I refer to him only because he expressed in a public forum what others mutter in private)--some people, then, think that communications skills can best be taught in technical report writing courses, while leadership can be inculcated by way of public speaking. I do not agree. The liberal arts are what fill out a person's education, helping turn narrowly focussed professionals into discerning citizens, intelligent communicators, and potential leaders. Courses in technical report writing are not only less effective than literature and history for improving communication skills; they are deadly dull."
Boss Black earns credit for his honesty, of course, but thoughtful engineers may recognize self-limitation created/imposed by arguments for narrowness. Samuel C. Florman must always finally be himself, a very good man & writer. His way of slicing through our prides & prejudices, though he may sometimes hesitate to be so straight, is our hope, both for sage application of technology itself & for nurturing of the broadly educated human beings with high levels of technical understanding & skill we need, now & in the future, in political/cultural/educational decision-making positions.
Florman has range, can vary his angle. In this book, as in Blaming Technology, he seeks primarily to entice the liberal artistic mob, mine by education/avocation, into an opening of sorts. I resist as noted, but may benefit from the challenge/exercise, which I recommend to fellow throwbacks. The Civilized Engineer (1987) is, essentially, an optimally-placed gentle kick in the head for practicing &, especially, educating engineers. I'm officially underqualified in those areas, though I do get my money by engineering, informally, learning as I go.