This award recognizes an NSPE Licensed Member for exceptional contributions to the Engineering Profession, to one's community, and specifically to NSPE.
Past Recipients: See the complete list of recipients.
2019 NSPE Distinguished Service Award
Gene O’Brien, P.E., F.NSPE
O’Brien has served over 50 years in many leadership positions with NSPE as well as its New Jersey affiliate. For NSPE he served two years as a Vice President on the Board of Directors, representing the 12 state society jurisdictions in the northeastern U.S. While in this capacity he also served on the Executive Committee for one year. He has chaired three different committees, and he currently serves as the Parliamentarian for the House of Delegates governing body.
For the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers he served two terms as President in addition to other officer positions. During his presidency he was instrumental in rallying New Jersey Professional Engineers to support advocacy of continuing educational requirements. Shortly thereafter legislation to effect this change was passed. Now each practicing Professional Engineer with a New Jersey license must fulfill this requirement to renew licensure.
In his community O’Brien was elected to four three-year terms on the governing body and also served as mayor. He has chaired the municipal planning board and led a major overhaul in the regulations controlling land use. More recently, he was reappointed to the planning board and is again serving as its chair. A major review of the municipal master plan is now being done under his leadership.
During his business career O’Brien was employed in an industry for which his Professional Engineer license, which he earned in 1967, was not required. Nevertheless he sought the license because of his commitment to the code of ethics promulgated within the profession as well as his commitment to protecting the public’s health and safety.
Following receipt of his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the NJ Institute of Technology he became active in its alumni association. After serving on numerous committees and in various officer positions, he was elected as the organization’s president. O’Brien also earned a Masters in Business Administration degree from Rutgers University.
After retirement O’Brien engaged with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). The organization offers four extra curricula programs for various pre-college age level students to enhance ability in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. O’Brien helped form a non-profit corporation for which he served two years as Chairman to provide high school-age youth in Delaware, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania with access to the most sophisticated of the four programs, i.e. FIRST Robotics Competition. In addition to improving STEM abilities, the participants learn life skills like teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication all of which is intended to help them become the leaders of tomorrow.