30 Girls Build Electric Go-Karts for a Race of a LifetimeAugust 3, 2022
The race to the finish line is on its way as 30 teenage girls from the Chicagoland area work with ComEd women engineers to assemble high-tech electric go-karts. For the past week, participants have been getting their hands dirty building six EVs, while networking with their peers and inspiring female leaders in STEM, and connecting with their mentors.
With three build nights complete, participants have already heard from a variety of guest speakers as they work to create their electric go-karts, including:
- Kate Biberdorf, Chemist, science entertainer, and professor at The University of Texas
- Michelle Blaise, ComEd SVP Technical Services
- Carla Frieh, ComEd VP Transmission and Substation
- Cheryl Maletich, ComEd SVP Transmission and Substation
- Gil Quiniones, ComEd CEO
- Ashley Walker, Planetary Astrochemist and Science Communicator
Their hard work will come to fruition on race day Saturday, Aug. 6, at 12:00 p.m. (doors open to the public at 11:30 a.m.), when the girls will race their creations on the campus of the Museum of Science and Industry. But in this race, everyone is a winner, as each of the participants will receive a $2,000 scholarship upon completing the program. To inspire even more girls to get into STEM, ComEd is giving away 500 tickets to the Museum of Science and Industry for community members to visit the museum on race day Aug. 6 after cheering their favorite teams on during the rally.
The EV Rally is an evolution of the longstanding ComEd Icebox Derby program, which ComEd launched in 2014 to educate and empower young women to explore careers in STEM and become the innovative workforce of the future. For six years a total of 180 girls participated in the ComEd Icebox Derby where they transformed old, inefficient refrigerators into solar-enhanced racecars. Like the ComEd EV Rally, participants were teamed up with ComEd mentors to assemble and race the cars.
An opportunity like this can change the college and career trajectory for the participants. Vanessa Nieto, associate engineer at ComEd, participated in ComEd’s Ice Box Derby in 2017, which inspired her to become an engineer.
“Having the opportunity to participate in an interactive STEM event like the EV Rally can help solidify a young woman’s path into a STEM career,” said Vanessa. “I was lucky to participate in the ComEd Icebox Derby, the predecessor of the EV Rally. Prior to this experience, I had planned to be a math teacher, but seeing my team’s car on race day completely opened my eyes to a new possibility. The exposure to real-world STEM applications, the support from ComEd mentors and the motivational guest speakers encouraged me to pursue an exciting career in engineering, and I’m very glad I did.”
Today, women make up 50 percent of the workforce, yet hold only 27 percent of STEM-related jobs in Illinois, according to a study by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. To boost diverse and female representation in our industry, ComEd supports an array of year-round STEM education and technology initiatives in order to develop a future workforce that is reflective of the communities it serves.
“We’re excited to bring back a hands-on experience to promote better representation of women in STEM,” said Gil Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. “We will need this next generation of STEM leaders to develop and implement new technologies as we move into a clean energy future for all and fight the effects of climate change. We hope that through their participation in the ComEd EV Rally, these young women will be inspired to follow a STEM career path.”