Building A Path For Future Leaders In STEM

IMG_3992A couple of weeks ago, ComEd kicked off the Icebox Derby, an educational competition involving 30 teen girls from across Chicagoland who will work in teams to transform recycled refrigerators into electric race cars. New to this year’s program, the young women also will explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through the scope of renewable energy, building and powering parts of their cars with solar technology.

In addition to enhanced aerodynamics, the 2016 Icebox Derby cars will each have two, 30-watt solar panels to power accessories like LED headlights, a car horn, and a helmet with two-way communication capabilities. The cars will also feature a solar-charged control module, used to communicate between the panels and solar components.

IMG_4151“For ComEd, technology and innovation are at the core of our business. As the energy industry continues to evolve, we are in need of a future work force that is able to anticipate and solve the technical problems of today and the digital challenges of tomorrow. We are committed to creating opportunities like the Icebox Derby to offer hands-on experiences to young women in the STEM subjects,” said Anne Pramaggiore, President and CEO of ComEd. “As an energy company, we also recognize the value of solar energy and its important role in the years to come. Incorporating renewable energy into Icebox Derby is just one of the ways ComEd is working to jumpstart solar in Illinois, and also train the work force who will help us lead the way.”

Since its kickoff, the girls have worked to build their cars from the ground –- or rather fridge -– up. The Icebox Derby is intended to help increase interest in STEM and awareness among women by providing a hands-on educational platform by which girls, ages 13-18, get to work closely with ComEd mentors and other technical experts to learn about practical applications of STEM in the world and in the work force. Important lessons about teamwork and safety are also closely tied to this initiative.

IMG_4059This is the third year of the program.

Yara Shahidi, the teen co-star of the hit ABC television sitcom Blackish whose character is Zoey Johnson, will be on hand Saturday at the Field Museum. She will cheer on the new teams that put their solar-powered fridge cars to the test in a head-to-head race with their fellow Icebox Derby Racers.

Each team will compete to take home the STEM Cup, scholarship money and other prizes. Shahidi has become a major advocate in empowering young women to engage in STEM to become leaders in the field.

The Icebox Derby contestants will receive a scholarship for completing the program, and the first-place winners in the 2016 race will win a prize to be revealed at a later date.

For more photo highlights of ComEd’s Icebox Derby launch event in July.

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