Girls, Cars and Electronics
ComEd Helps Promote Careers In STEM Fields
September 2016

​Girls, cars, and electronics. That’s exactly what Commonwealth Edison (ComEd)—an Exelon company in Chicago—brought together. ComEd’s CEO Anne Pramaggiore introduced the IceBox Derby in 2014 as a way to get more young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields. This year’s competition was based on turning recycled refrigerators into solar-powered cars.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the program is paying off. Irene Xu, 14, on team “Sparkle Effect,” said she learned that she is far better at computer coding than operating power tools.
“I think coding is fun. It really makes you think,” she said.
 
The students are joined by team mentors who have first-hand experience with being the only woman in a field mostly dominated by men. “I worked hard and learned as much as I could in class and in the field, so having the skills I needed to get the job done made being the only woman a little easier,” says Tajuana Jefferson, a team mentor.
 
Energy companies are longtime sponsors of youth programs encouraging careers in STEM fields. In fact, an industry-sponsored team recently won the FIRST® Tech challenge regional competition. FIRST® designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.
 
One thing is clear: No matter who won the third annual IceBox Derby, all participants in this annual event emerge winners, taking with them a deeper knowledge of engineering practices and a great appreciation for STEM programs.
 
For more coverage of this year’s race, read Radiant Flames Shine Bright to Win 2016 Icebox Derby.