Recent grad climbing to her next adventure

Posted: March 3, 2023

With a love for rock climbing and the outdoors, Ariel Gluck, a recent graduate with a bachelor’s in material science engineering, found a way to merge both her passions into a project.  

Ariel Gluck in the additive lab, holding up climbing nuts in relation to her research

The summer after Gluck’s freshman year she began working at the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME).  Her first experience participating in materials science research was in the additive manufacturing (AM) lab at CDME on a project using robots to autonomously forge metal parts, including forging her own knife. Since starting at CDME, Gluck noticed how she has grown with the strong culture of mentorship at CDME.  

After independently learning nTopology, an industrial software optimized for complex structures, Gluck became interested in working with lattices and metamaterials. She later translated this into a position at CDME using nTopology to design and print lattices for impact protection in football helmets as well as for an Air Force-sponsored America Makes project on testing metal printed lattices. Gluck later worked as a student research assistant at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for over a year. Her work there had an overarching emphasis on applying additive manufacturing, metamaterials and topology optimization to objectives such as carbon capture and improving sustainability in manufacturing. 

After graduation, Gluck returned to CDME, to pursue one last project aiming to examine the microstructure of climbing equipment to discover how to improve existing technologies. Gluck’s inspiration for this capstone project came from reading the book, Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing by Lauren DeLaunay Miller. The story of Bea Vogel, a woman who forged her own climbing equipment, inspired Gluck to do the same. She developed a proposal to create robotically forge passive protection and carried it out at CDME.  

Gluck conducted research for the climbing equipment proposal at CDME. The project involved materials characterization, analyzing the grain structure of off-the-shelf parts, and eventually making recommendations for future manufacturing guidelines. As she begins to wrap up her project, she will venture to California in March to climb for a few months.  

Ariel Gluck holding up printed lattices for helmets

“We are taking the southern route with lots of climbing on the way,” said Gluck. “Then I'm going to a conference or two to network for grad school. I kind of combined these two extremes of, immersing myself in nature and in research for my future career.” 

One of the conferences she will be attending is The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS) Conference in San Diego. Gluck is also planning to visit grad schools out west, but she plans to continue to embrace the journey before beginning a PhD program and eventually working in industry. She credits her ongoing interest in facilitating research/industry partnerships for promoting sustainability in manufacturing to her time working at CDME. She recommends that students make connections with peers to get more involved and try new things during their undergraduate experience. If she hadn’t taken a chance on climbing, she wouldn’t have the opportunities she does today.  

“Do things that make you happy and everything will fall into place,” said Gluck.  

Connect with Ariel Gluck:  


By: Evahanna Cruz, CDME Marketing and Communications Student Assistant 

Category: Students