O&M, Renewables, Solar

ComEd Icebox Derby teaches young women value of STEM skills

What’s more fun than recycling old fridges by transforming them into solar-powered racecars and helping young women gain experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills?

Long question, but the answer is short: Nothing. Which is why ComEd’s annual Icebox Derby is such a popular event in Chicago each summer.

The Exelon-owned utility has selected 30 participants ages 13 to 18. Working with mentors, they develop craftsmanship and STEM-related skills to build the cars while also earning $1,500 scholarships for each young woman.

This year’s sixth-annual ComEd Icebox Derby will take place Saturday, August 3 at Daley Plaza in Chicago. The picture above is from a previous event.

The challenge is fun and exciting but the problem is real: Women make up 49 percent of the workforce, yet only 26 percent of jobs in STEM-related fields in Illinois, according to a study by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition.

“The lack of women in STEM careers continues to be a problem, and we need to do more than talk about it,” said Joe Dominguez, CEO of ComEd. “That’s why we created this program to encourage young women to step into their power and take ownership of the opportunities that exist in STEM field. The world’s biggest challenges involve science, technology, engineering and math, and we will need women scientists and innovators to help solve them. The Icebox Derby is just one way we are creating positive change and exposing youth from our communities to STEM career possibilities.”

This summer, more than 10 percent of past Icebox Derby participants are working at ComEd as interns.

This year, the ComEd Icebox Derby is not only for the participants: The public can take up to 12 social media challenges for a chance to win one of several energy efficient prizes, including a smart refrigerator, smart thermostats and solar-powered phone chargers. Fans can learn more about Derby Diehards and take a quiz to find out which team matches their personality at IceboxDerby.com.