Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student Alex Van Der Linden Keeps His Priorities Straight

Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student Alex Van Der Linden Keeps His Priorities Straight

aerospace engineering student Alex Van Der Linden
Born to Fly: Recent U.S. Air Force Academy grad, Alex Van Der Linden, is now a graduate student at the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering where he is doing research in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL).

Aerospace engineering master's student Alex Van Der Linden has his sights set on becoming a test pilot in the in the United States Air Force, a passion he discovered at a young age. Now he's one step closer to turning his dreams into reality. 

Now graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering, the active 2nd Lieutenant is a master’s student in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. 

“I feel my Air Force experience has instilled great time management skills, diligence, and communications skills that will help me succeed at Tech,” he says.

It's been a lifetime in the making.

At age five, the Aruba native designed his own Boeing 787 for his kindergarten science fair — getting help from his U.S. Army veteran grandfather who graduated from Georgia Tech with degrees in architecture and civil engineering. As a child, his love of flight was also inspired by his father’s work with Air Aruba.

Growing up in Georgia, there were two things that Alex always knew: he wanted to be a pilot, and Waffle House had the best comfort food.

For the last four years, Alex has spent his time in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the Air Force Academy. Before he left, he Googled, “How many Waffle House locations in Colorado Springs?” and three showed up on the map.


These days, he spends his time balancing research projects in the ASDL, focusing mainly on a project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which invests in technologies supporting national security. 

Van Der Linden’s research focuses on active flow control (AFC), an evolving field of fluid dynamics. His goal is to demonstrate significant efficiency benefits of AFC in an effort to make improvements in aircraft cost, weight, performance, and reliability.

After he completes his graduate program, it’s off to another adventure — pilot training for the Air Force under the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program (ENJJPT). But today, he is proud to be on Georgia Tech’s campus to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather.

And it doesn’t hurt that Atlanta has more Waffle Houses than any other city in America.

This story courtesy of Evan Atkinson, Institute Communications


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