Samuel C. Florman

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Samuel C. Florman
Photo of Samuel Florman
Born(1925-01-19)January 19, 1925
United States
OccupationAuthor, Civil Engineer
Alma materDartmouth College, B.A., C.E.
Columbia University, MA
GenreNon-fiction, Fiction, Memoir
SubjectEngineering, Relationship between technology and the general culture
Notable worksThe Existential Pleasures of Engineering, and six other books
Judith Hadas (m. 1951)
ChildrenTwo sons; Five Granddaughters

Samuel C. Florman (born January 19, 1925) is an American civil engineer, general contractor and author. He is best known for his writings and speeches about engineering, technology and the general culture. The most widely distributed of his seven books[1] is "'The Existential Pleasures of Engineering'", published in 1976, second edition in 1994. According to one authority, 'It has become an often-referred-to modern classic.'[2] His most recently published book is Good Guys, Wiseguys and Putting Up Buildings: A Life in Construction, published in 2012. Florman is Chairman of Kreisler Borg Florman General Construction Company, Scarsdale, New York. In 1995 he was elected [3] to the National Academy of Engineering “For literary contributions furthering engineering professionalism, ethics and liberal engineering education."[4]

Early life, education and military service[edit]

Samuel C. Florman was born and raised in New York City where he attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. He entered Dartmouth College with the Class of 1946,[5] which because of the outbreak of war, started studies in the summer of 1942. The following year he enlisted in the Navy V-12 program at Dartmouth, continued his studies while on active duty, and received the BS degree, summa cum laude in November 1944. He took graduate courses at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering until February 1945 when he was sent to the Civil Engineer Corps officers training school in Davisville, Rhode Island. On May 5, 1945 he was commissioned as an ensign and assigned to a program of military training. For a year, starting in August 1945, he served with the 29th Construction Battalion (the Seabees)[6] supervising construction work in the Philippines and Truk. Returning to civilian life in the fall of 1946 he entered graduate school at Columbia University and earned an MA degree in English Literature (June 3, 1947). He started work as a construction engineer in the summer of 1947 while taking graduate engineering courses at night at New York University. In subsequent years he earned his license to Practice Professional Engineering in the State of New York (October 17, 1957) and was awarded the fifth-year Civil Engineer degree by the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth (April 14, 1973).


Florman married Judith Hadas of Kansas City in 1951. They had their first son in 1954 followed by a second in 1958. The couple resides in New York City and Kent Lakes, Putnam County, N.Y. They have five granddaughters.


In 1948 after service in the Seabees and graduate studies at Columbia and N.Y.U., Florman worked as a field engineer for Hegeman-Harris Co.[7] on a project in Venezuela. He then returned to the United States and worked as an office engineer for Thompson-Starrett Co., New York City, from 1949-53. From 1954-55 he was a project manager for Joseph P. Blitz, Inc.,[8] New York City. In 1956 he joined the newly formed Kreisler Borg Florman General Construction Co., Scarsdale and New York City. He is currently Chairman.[9]



  • "Engineering and the Liberal Arts (1968), McGraw-Hill Inc.
  • "The Existential Pleasures of Engineering (1976. Second Edition, 1994), St. Martin's Press.
  • Blaming Technology: The Irrational Search for Scapegoats (1981), St. Martin's Press.
  • "The Civilized Engineer (1987), St. Martin's Press.
  • "The Introspective Engineer (1996), St. Martin's Press.
  • The Aftermath: A Novel of Survival (2001), St. Martin's Press.
  • Good Guys, Wiseguys, and Putting Up Buildings: A Life in Construction (2012), St. Martin's Press.


Florman has written more than 250 articles[10] in professional journals, newspapers and magazines. His articles are seen in Harper's—for which he was a contributing editor[11] from 1976 to 1981—and MIT's Technology Review,[12] where he wrote a quarterly column from 1982-98.

Papers, Presentations and Speeches[edit]

Florman has delivered papers and given speeches and presentations at many universities including Georgia Institute of Technology,[13] Princeton, Yale and the U.S. Military Academy—as well as at many engineering conferences and the New York Academy of Science—since 1968.

Professional Activities[edit]

Since being elected as a Fellow[14] of American Society of Civil Engineers in 1965, Florman has served on many committees of the National Academy of Engineering and United States National Research Council,[15] including the Committee on the Offshoring of Engineering,[16] from 2006-08.

Awards and honors[edit]

Florman's numerous awards include the Ralph Coats Roe Medal,[17] American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1982, which "recognizes an outstanding contribution toward a better public understanding and appreciation of the engineer’s worth to contemporary society," and honorary doctorates from Manhattan College and Clarkson University.[18]


  1. ^ Florman, Samuel (April 2013). "Leadership and Management in Engineering". ASCE Leadership and Management in Engineering. Engineering Legends. 13 (2): 101–108. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)LM.1943-5630.0000221.
  2. ^ Petroski, Henry (2011). An Engineer's Alphabet-Gleanings from the Softer Side of a Profession. Cambridge University Press. p. 37. ISBN 9781107015067.
  3. ^ "NAE Members". National Academy of Engineering.
  4. ^ Samuel, Florman. "Chairman". National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Dartmouth College Fund: Class of 1946". Dartmouth College.
  6. ^ "29th Naval Construction Battalion" (PDF). Naval History and Heritage Command.
  7. ^ "Hegeman-Harris Co. of Florida Website". Hegeman-Harris Company of Florida.
  8. ^ "Joseph P. Blitz, 86, A Retired Builder". New York Times. October 1994.
  9. ^ Florman, Samuel (2012). Good Guys, Wise Guys and Putting up Guildings. New York: A Thomas Dunne Book, St. Martin’s Press.
  10. ^ "Articles by Samuel C. Florman".
  11. ^ "Samuel C. Florman". Harper's Magazine.
  12. ^ "Samuel C. Florman: Guest Contributor". MIT Technology Review.
  13. ^ Norman R. Augustine. "1996 Woodruff Distinguished Lecture Transcript: "Yes, But Will It Work in Theory?"" (PDF). Georgian Institute of Technology.
  14. ^ American Society of Civil Engineers "fellow" "Florman".
  15. ^ Engineering Education: Designing an Adaptive System.
  16. ^ "Offshoring of Engineering: Committee". National Academy of Engineering.
  17. ^ "Ralph Coats Roe Metal". American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  18. ^ Staff Writer: Whistle (April 29, 1991). "Florman Delivering Annual Woodruff Lecture May 8–9" (PDF). The Georgia Tech Whistle.

External links[edit]