Empowering Communities

Students create innovations that address community challenges

April 19, 2019

Kodiak Cakes, Scrub Daddy, and Drop Stop are a few products that became successful after entrepreneurs sealed a deal with investors on the reality TV show, Shark Tank.

Like the aspiring entrepreneurs on the show, local high school students are developing innovations of their own as part of ComEd’s Ideathon – a competition among high schools in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood to design solutions to address community challenges.

Although students won’t strike a deal with Sharks Mark Cuban or Laurie Greiner, they will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and compete for large cash prizes at the final “Spark Tank” event.

“We know that the students have worked really hard throughout Ideathon, and we want to instill in them the confidence to pitch their ideas and be celebrated for the skills they learned along the way,” said Ideathon Consultant Dana Al-Qadi.

For the past four months, students have worked to develop innovations that have the potential to enhance everyday life in their communities. Several of the teams’ innovations are rooted in concepts of security, safety, extreme weather mitigation, and assistance for vulnerable communities.

“Seeing that awareness in young people and their desire to translate that into technology says so much about our next-generation work force, said Al-Qadi.”

Students work alongside college mentors and engineers from ComEd, Silver Spring Networks, Accenture, and other technology leaders to help their idea come to fruition.

“By working with young professionals on cutting-edge technology, it allows futures in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to not only feel attainable but also feel relevant and exciting,” she said.

Last year’s winning team created a micro-processor concept to help prevent accidents when emergency vehicles travel through busy urban intersections.

Stay tuned to see what team wins at this year’s Spark Tank event April 20.

Watch the video above to learn more about the students’ journey.