Our Advisory Board

Beirat VDI Wissensforum

These high-level personalities support our company with their experience, their contacts and their wealth of ideas as part of our Advisory Board.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thorsten Schmidt

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thorsten Schmidt studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Dortmund from 1987 to 1994. He also studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated with a Master’s of Science in Manufacturing Systems. Following his studies, he worked as a research assistant at the Chair for Materials Handling and Warehousing at the University of Dortmund. In 2000, he received his doctorate in Sorting Technology and was employed in the position of Chief Engineer at the Chair for Materials Handling and Warehousing. From 2004 to 2008, Prof. Schmidt worked as Head of the 'Machines and Facilities' at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics. Since 2008, he has been leading the Chair of Technical Logistics at the Technische Universität Dresden.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rodolfo Schöneburg

Following his studies in Space Technology at the Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rodolfo Schöneburg worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Design Calculation there from 1983 to 1988.

In 1988, he began his professional career at Audi AG in Ingolstadt as a trainee where he held various management positions, including responsibility for Restraint Systems, Body Calculation and Safety Complete Vehicle until 1999.

Since April 1999, Prof. Schöneburg has been Centre Director for Vehicle Safety, Operational Stability and Vehicle Functions at Daimler AG in Sindelfingen. Moreover, since 2012, he has been responsible for the Corrosion Protection Complete Vehicle for all Mercedes Benz passenger cars.

In addition to his work as head of the Centre, he gives lectures at the Dresden University of Applied Sciences as well as at the Technische Universität Dresden. Prof. Schöneburg is also a member of the Advisory Board of the VDI Knowledge Forum and works as a curator at the Fraunhofer Ernst Mach Institute in an honorary capacity. He had headed the VDI Society for Vehicle and Traffic Technologies as Chairman since 2011.

Ralph Appel

Ralph Appel was born in Hamburg in 1958. He studied at the University/THH Hamburg and received his degree (Diplom) in Industrial Engineering with focus on the areas of Automation Technology, Manufacturing Engineering, Materials Management, Industrial Management, and Economics.

Following his studies, Ralph Appel worked as a financial trainee and controller at Maizena GmbH in Hamburg before joining Cerestar, a leading European company in the starch industry in 1987. He then worked as Commercial Director Food Europe. In 2002, he changed to the globally active primary food products manufacturer, Cargill, as the global Business Unit Leader for Texturizing Solutions. Here, he was employed as Managing Director and Country Lead for Germany until 2013.

In 2013, Ralph Appel was appointed VDI Director and is an Executive Member of the VDI Executive Committee. In addition, he is Chairperson of the Board of the ASIIN e.V. Accreditation Agency, Vice President of the European Federation of National Engineering Associations FEANI and member of the Board of Directors of the European Accreditation Umbrella Association ENEAEE.

Stefan Dohm

Stefan Dohm studied Law at the University of Passau after completing his Abitur and vocational education to become a bank clerk. After his clerkship, Mr. Dohm was employed as an audit assistant in the examination body of the Niedersächsische Sparkassenverband [Lower Saxony Savings Bank Association] in 1998; from here he changed to the position of General Counsel in the Legal Department in 2000.

From 2003 to 2008, Mr. Dohm was head of Purchasing, Law and Finance at Finanz Informatik GmbH & Co. KG in Hanover and Frankfurt am Main. In addition to his work at Finanz Informatik, he studied part-time at the Malik Management Centre in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

From 2009 to 2015, Mr. Dohm served as authorised signatory for the management control of Talanx Systems AG, the IT subsidiary of Talanx/HDI Group in Hanover which is responsible for the primary insurance market.     

Since 2016, Mr. Dohm has been CEO of the VDI GmbH in Düsseldorf.