Johann-Dietrich ‘Jan’ Wörner studied civil engineering at the Technical University (TU) Berlin and TU Darmstadt, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1990 he was appointed as a professor of Civil Engineering at TU Darmstadt and took over as Head of the Test and Research Institute, before being elected as President of TU Darmstadt in 1995. He headed the university from 1995 to 2007 and succeeded in making it the first autonomous university of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Jan Wörner has been Vice President of the Helmholtz Association and also a member of various national and international supervisory bodies, advisory councils and committees. He 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 and has been a member of a number of supervisory boards including Carl Schenck AG, Röhm GmbH, TÜV Rheinland AG and Bilfinger SE.
From 2007 to 2015, he served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and was head of the German delegation to ESA, and served as Chairman of the ESA Council from 2012 to 2014. Jan became the ESA Director General on 1 July 2015.