ASCE has honored William J. O’Brien, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, NAC, with the 2021 Computing in Civil Engineering Award for his leadership in linking science, public policy, and the construction industry to drive technology development and progress.  

O'Brien has played a significant role in fostering the development and adoption of information technologies to advance civil engineering. He served on the EXCOM of the ASCE Computing Division, playing a key role in increasing membership and activity within the Division. He also chaired two conferences for the community while in Division leadership.  

O'Brien also served for five years as co–editor in chief of Advanced Engineering Informatics, broadening its author and readership base and increasing the journal's measured impact. As a researcher he has contributed to our understanding of the adoption of technologies, conducting empirical investigation of the impact of technologies on project performance. His work was among the first to statistically demonstrate the positive impact of technology use on work processes and project performance.  

His continuing research on technology implementation has found its way into national policy and industry practice. Examples include leading a project to create national guidelines on the use of BIM for State Departments of Transportation and implementation guidance and evaluation of automated site locating and tracking technologies. Expanding his technical contributions, O'Brien was a Board Member and Interim Director of Fiatech, an industry consortium dedicated to advancing the development and adoption of computing technologies. As Interim Director, he was central in leading the merger of Fiatech with the Construction Industry Institute (CII), making technology a central thrust of CII.

The Computing in Civil Engineering Award recognizes outstanding achievement and contribution in the use of computers in the practice of civil engineering.