Ice Box Derby Exposes Girls To Stem Related Careers

3/29/2017, noon | Updated on 3/29/2017, noon
Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), and is the nation’s leading competitive ...
Michell Blaise

"IceBox Derby' Exposes Girls To Stem Related Careers

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicagobased Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), and is the nation’s leading competitive energy provider with approximately 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, according to a ComEd press release.

Michelle Blaise, who is ComEd’s senior vice president of Technical Services, is responsible for Engineering, Project Management and Smart Grid & Technology. Blasie said the goal of ComEd is to develop long term programs like smart grid, which “is an electric system enhanced with innovative digital technologies,” that will continue to ensure service to their customers. As Blaise and her team focus on ensuring customers receive good service, ComEd continues to develop more female leaders like Blaise through its Icebox Derby program.

In 2014, ComEd launched Icebox Derby where 30 young girls from Chicago experience hands-on educational workshops at the Chicago Field Museum, located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. Recently, for the 2016 IceBox Derby, the young ladies “used science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] to transform old refrigerators into solar-powered race cars,” according to a

ComEd press release.

“The IceBox Derby is one of our most fun and exciting programs,” Blaise said, adding, “women make up a little over

20 percent of people that hold STEM related jobs. We think that there is a huge opportunity to increase the participation of

women in great roles in terms of changing the world and putting in new technology.”

According to ComEd, only four percent of girls who are interested in STEM have mentors, so the 4-week course allows girls

between ages 13-18 to work with ComEd’s technical experts and graduate students and learn more about the program of STEM and

the workforce.

“As we think about our organization and the utility industry, we’re going to need these smart, innovative people to lead us,” Blaise said. “And we invest in these types of programs in order to introduce these girls to STEM fields that they may not have had the opportunity to and give them a taste of the opportunities and possibilities that are there for them when they are thinking about their future and their career goals.”

She said the advice that she would give to young ladies who are thinking about pursuing a career in engineering and technology or in any other field is to do their research and be passionate about what they love.

“I think about myself when I was in high school,” Blaise said. “I hadn’t even thought about engineering as an opportunity until someone exposed me to it. I realized that I always loved math and science and I always loved solving problems. So, the advice I would give is to think about what you like

doing and find ways to continue to build on what you like doing. If you liked math then that’s ok, that’s great! But read and do your research on what’s out there for the things that you like to do and find folks that will expose you to those opportunities as well,” she said.