Johann-Dietrich “Jan” Woerner was born in Kassel, Germany, in 1954. He studied civil engineering at the Technical University (TU) Berlin and TU Darmstadt, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1982, as part of his studies, he spent one year in Japan, investigating earthquake safety of nuclear power plants. Until 1990, Mr Woerner worked for consulting civil engineers Koenig und Heunisch.
In 1990 he returned to TU Darmstadt as a professor of Civil Engineering and took over as Head of the Test and Research Institute. Before being elected as President of TU Darmstadt in 1995, he held the position of Dean of the Civil Engineering Faculty. Jan Woerner headed the university from 1995 to 2007 and succeeded in making it the first autonomous university in Germany.
Before joining ESA as Director General in July 2015, Jan Woerner was Chairman Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) from March 2007 onwards. He was head of the German delegation to ESA from 2007 to 2015 and served as ESA’s Council Chairman from 2012 to 2014.
Jan Woerner was a member of the administrative boards of École Centrale Paris, École Centrale de Lyon, TU Berlin, the Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, the Arts and Music University in Frankfurt.