ComEd is Bringing STEM Education to Latino StudentsOctober 18, 2022
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and introduce Latino students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, ComEd hosted a STEM Labs event in which 50 Latino high school students built their own robots, worked alongside ComEd engineers and explored STEM careers.
The students worked in teams with ComEd mentors to build, code and test drive small robots under the guidance of special guest Dr. Kate Biberdorf, a renowned author, chemist and science educator. In addition to connecting with ComEd mentors and executives throughout the day, each student received a $250 scholarship upon completing the program.
For participant Jezz Macias, a freshman at DePaul College Prep and Brighton Park, this was the first time she had participated in a hands-on STEM activity.
“It was a very fun experience! Building the robot and learning to do it all on my own was exciting. Before this program, I was not interested in engineering, but this event opened my eyes to what I could do in the STEM field,” said Jezz. “Everyone was so friendly at the event; the students would help each other, and the mentors were honestly overall amazing at answering our questions. I already told all my friends about this program and hopefully, they will do it next year.”
The fun didn’t stop at building and coding the robots. Students took it upon themselves to design intricate obstacle courses with resources including chairs, stools, and paper cups.
Her mentor Allan Gomez, ComEd engineering design tech and Norridge resident, participated for the first time as a ComEd STEM Mentor after recently joining the company this summer.
“I was inspired to become a mentor for the STEM event when I saw a message looking for 15-20 Latino engineers to volunteer as mentors. The message pointed out that only eight percent of the STEM workforce in the nation identifies as Hispanic and ComEd is working on changing that,” said Allan. “Once I read that sentence, I decided I wanted to be a part of making that change.”
Latino Americans make up 17% of the U.S. workforce, but only 8% of the STEM workers. Studies show that despite being as interested in STEM as other ethnic groups, Latino students are less likely to take STEM courses in high school, which decreases the likelihood they will pursue opportunities that lead to careers in STEM, according to the Student Research Foundation.
Both mentor and mentee walked away with a great experience and while it was their first time participating in a ComEd STEM event, it will not be their last.
“I really enjoyed being a mentor and I hope students realize that STEM can be fun and that you can make friends and memories while participating in STEM. I look forward to being involved in more events like this one during my tenure at ComEd,” said Allan. “My biggest takeaway is Representation is important for these kids. Seeing someone that looks similar to them that is involved in STEM can propel them into a future where they pursue STEM. As Dr. Biberdorf said at the event- It only takes one person to get you interested in STEM.”
And that was the case for Jezz, who prior to this experience was considering studying pre-law or psychology. But now she is interested in exploring engineering as a career option. While she is just a freshman in high school, she plans to participate in more STEM events over the next four years.
Students, parents and educators interested in being notified about upcoming ComEd STEM youth programs and when to apply can submit their email address at: STEMsignUp.com/ComEd.