EventsThe Engineer and Society

The Engineer and Society

Johann-Dietrich Wörner

German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cologne, Germany

Event from
03 May
Foto von Johann-Dietrich Wörner



Engineers are first and foremost concerned with the technical realization of projects. They apply their expertise to completing optimized, and above all safe, constructions. A glance at events since the building of the additional runway known as Startbahn West at Frankfurt airport shows that in the future we will also have to take into account issues that concern the wider society if we don’t want to be regarded as purely number crunchers. When we look back we can observe a significant social change in terms of the involvement of the public, especially as regards planning and realization of transportation centres and other infrastructural buildings. 

Early involvement of a broader public can lead to a change in planning and so perhaps to project modifications, but will at any rate achieve wider acceptance. At the same time, the involvement of the public should not jeopardize the legal certainty of planning permissions, since an applicant, whether private or public, must be able to rely on a decision once taken. In order to safeguard the future standing of the engineer as problem solver and competent contact partner, civil engineers in particular will have to modify their perception of themselves as pure technicians and instead regard themselves as key players who anticipate and play an active role in effecting social change.

Johann-Dietrich Wörner

Prof. Dr.-Ing. 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.

After completing his studies in civil engineering at the Technical University of Berlin and the Technical University of Darmstadt, where he obtained his doctorate in 1985, Prof. Wörner worked for the consulting civil engineers of König and Heunisch until 1990. In that year he was appointed to a professorship at the Technical University of Darmstadt where he headed the Testing and Research Institute. Before being elected President of the Technical University of Darmstadt, which became an autonomous university under his presidency, he was Technical Head of the Institute for Glass Construction and Dean of the Civil ­Engineering Faculty.