This week ComEd kicked off the Icebox Derby, an educational competition involving 30 teen girls from across Chicagoland who will work in teams to transform recycled refrigerators into electric racecars. New to this year’s program, the young women also will explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) through the scope of renewable energy, building and powering parts of their cars with solar technology.
In addition to enhanced aerodynamics, the 2016 Icebox Derby cars will each have two, 30-watt solar panels to power accessories like LED headlights, a car horn, and a helmet with two-way communication capabilities. The cars will also feature a solar charge control module, used to communicate between the panels and solar components.
“For ComEd, technology and innovation are at the core of our business. As the energy industry continues to evolve, we are in need of a future workforce that is able to anticipate and solve the technical problems of today and the digital challenges of tomorrow. We are committed to creating opportunities like the Icebox Derby to offer hands-on experiences to young women in the STEM subjects,” said Anne Pramaggiore, President and CEO of ComEd. “As an energy company, we also recognize the value of solar energy and its important role in the years to come. Incorporating renewable energy into Icebox Derby is just one of the ways ComEd is working to jumpstart solar in Illinois, and also train the workforce who will help us lead the way.”
In the coming weeks, the girls will work to build their cars from the ground — or rather fridge — up. The Icebox Derby is intended to help increase interest STEM and awareness amongst women by providing a hands-on educational platform by which girls, ages 13-18, get to work closely with ComEd mentors and other technical experts to learn about practical applications of STEM in the world and in the workforce. Important lessons about teamwork and safety are also closely tied to this initiative.
This is the third year of the program and on August 13, the new teams will put their solar-powered fridge cars to the test in a head-to-head race with their fellow Icebox Derby Racers to take home the STEM Cup, scholarship money and other prizes. Each Icebox Derby contestant will receive a scholarship for completing the program and the first place winners in the 2016 race will win a prize to be revealed at a later date.