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Meet Robin S. Shin ’12. When she isn’t busy tooling away in her architecture studio, she fences for the MIT Women’s varsity team. She was recently named the Northeast Conference Fencer of the Year, and placed 20th at the NCAA competition, where she was the only representative from Division III.

Robin started fencing in her native Brookline, Mass. when she was 12 years old. Growing up, she remembers traveling to fencing tournaments by herself. Now, her favorite part about being on the MIT team is that the entire team travels together and has a great time doing it. In particular, she enjoys traveling with the team to “the Big One,” which is held at Smith College and is the first tournament of the year. Because the tournament does not count for NCAA standings, there is less pressure and everyone on the team goes, making for a fun bus ride.

For those who are unfamiliar, fencing is like other “individual” sports like golf or tennis in the sense that, although there are individual tournaments and head-to-head bouts are individual by nature, there is also a team competition structure; collegiate teams square off against each other and the teams are ranked according to the number of team matches they win and the quality of the teams they beat.

Individual bouts are won by scoring five “touches.” How a touch is scored depends on the type of weapon used. These weapons include the foil, which is light and flexible, the sabre which is a “cutting” weapon (Robin’s sword of choice), and the épée, which is designed to more closely resemble an old-fashioned dueling sword. The weapons are hooked up to electrical equipment and have a push-button switch at the tip so that a touch is registered when the weapon strikes the opponent. Depending on the weapon, only certain parts of the body can be hit in order to receive touches, and touches may be awarded depending on which person was on the offensive when touches were made.

When Robin isn’t slicing and jabbing away at her fencing foes, she enjoys baking, painting, and attending music festivals. She’s also a fan of Arrested Development, The Good Wife, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Be sure to congratulate her on her stellar season!