Johann-Dietrich Wörner was born in Kassel in 1954. He has been Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since 1 March 2007.
He studied civil engineering at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1982, as part of his studies, he spent two years in Japan, investigating earthquake safety. Until 1990 Wörner worked for the consulting civil engineers König und Heunisch. In 1990 he returned to Darmstadt University, where he was appointed to a professorship in Civil Engineering and took over as Head of the Testing and Research Institute. Before being elected President of the Technische Universität Darmstadt in 1995, he held the position of Dean of the Civil Engineering Faculty.
Wörner has been honoured with a series of prizes and awards such as the Prize of the Organisation of Friends of the Technische Universität Darmstadt for 'outstanding scientific performance'. He was also appointed to the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and is a representative of the Technical Sciences Section of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Wörner has received honorary doctorates from the State University New York (USA), the technical universities of Bucharest (Romania) and Mongolia, the Saint Petersburg University for Economics and Finance (Russia), and École Centrale Lyon (France). He has been honoured by the German state of Hesse and the French government.
Wörner is Vice President of the Helmholtz Association; he is also a member of various national and international supervisory bodies, advisory councils and committees. He was a member of the board of École Centrale Paris and École Centrale Lyon, the Convention for Technical Sciences (acatech) and the supervisory board of Röhm GmbH, to name just a few. Furthermore, he was appointed to the energy expert group of the German Government. He continues to be a member of the advisory boards of several universities such as the Technische Universität Berlin and the IST Lisboa.