Finding balance in fencing and more


By Michael Padilla

When Ariel Gluck was 11 years old, she wanted to find a sport that did not involve running, so she Googled fencing. She found a club near her house and the rest is history.

Fast forward to today: As a fourth-year materials science engineering major at Ohio State University and an intern at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, she said fencing has been invaluable in teaching her how to balance time and priorities.

“Juggling engineering school and a varsity sport – even if I’m just a walk-on — is a crash course in precision time management,” she said. “I have learned how to
balance my career aspirations with developing myself as a complete person with an identity beyond my passion for engineering.”

She said fencing is a sport that demands focus and it is the part of her routine where she can let go of school and work concerns and just enjoy herself.

Gluck said she has never been a competitive athlete.  Growing up, she focused her drive solely on engineering pursuits like her robotics team.

“It was important to balance that intensity with an activity that I did for its own sake,” she said. “Fencing triples as an outlet from work, exercise and a hobby. I appreciate having a hobby that forces me to stop thinking about whatever obligations are on my mind.”

Fencing also has contributed to her success in the lab and in the classroom.

“Balancing daily three-hour practices with my rigorous coursework helped me develop excellent focus and time management skills, which were crucial to adapt to online classes and remote work,” she said.

She has taken part in several projects at Ohio State’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence as well as a remote internship based in Tel Aviv. Her work on a project testing metal- printed lattices with nTopology software set the foundation for her position at the Lab. She uses nTopology to optimize topology and design lattice structures for a range of projects at LLNL, including cellular fluidics, functional coatings and 3D printed glass.

Gluck said it is never too late to start a new hobby. Her mother started fencing shortly after Gluck started; a few years later, her mother qualified for the Veteran World Team.