Empowering Communities

STEM program inspires student to change major

February 11, 2020

Growing up, Marcaja Todd didn’t dream about becoming an engineer.   

That all changed when she participated in the Icebox Derby, a ComEd educational program that helps young women realize the possibilities of a future in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Participants work alongside female ComEd mentors to transform recycled refrigerators into electric and solar-powered racecars.

“Icebox Derby made me want to become an engineer,” Todd said. “I changed my major to engineering because the program had such an impact on me.”

The stories of Todd and other women in STEM takes on special meaning today, International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The United Nations established the day to promote gender equality in science and technology.

“I think it’s important to show how strong women are in STEM,” she said. “Even more, women from underrepresented communities pursuing STEM careers.”

Todd racing in her Icebox Derby solar-powered racecar

Now a senior at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., studying computer engineering, Todd is excited for her future in STEM.

Todd and her Icebox Derby team members

“I learned about STEM while in [Icebox Derby], but also bonded with a group of girls who had the same interests as me,” Todd said. “I was also exposed and had the opportunity to connect with female leaders in ComEd.”

After college, Todd plans to get a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and one day work for ComEd.

“I am so excited to officially become an engineer,” she said. “Working for ComEd would be a dream of mine.”