In February ComEd launched its Solar Spotlight program, designed to expose African American high school students to opportunities in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as part of its annual Black History Month celebration.
During ComEd’s Solar Spotlight, more than 60 high school students participated in the two-day educational sessions where they interacted with STEM professionals, including ComEd engineers and executives, and learned more about solar energy, famous African American STEM leaders and careers.
The Solar Spotlight curriculum includes live solar demonstrations and new this year, the students helped assemble portable solar suitcases in conjunction with the team from We Share Solar. The portable suitcases included solar cells that generate energy and can become a back-up power source during emergencies for lights, cell phones and computers. The suitcases assembled by the students will be sent to local community centers and some will be sent beyond Illinois’ borders to locations like Haiti and Puerto Rico, which have been impacted by hurricanes that caused massive power outages.
The Solar Spotlight educational events took place on February 10 at the ComEd Training Center in Bridgeport, and on February 17, students visited the Illinois Tech’s (IIT) campus. While at IIT, Solar Spotlight students were given a tour of the facility and introduced to current IIT students.
Anne Pramaggiore, President and CEO of ComEd noted that the company was “ honored to celebrate Black History Month and help African-American students in our communities learn more about career options that could make positive impact on their future.” She said “In the next 10 years, the workforce will need 1 million additional STEM jobs and these jobs are growing faster in terms of opportunity and pay. It’s critical that we create awareness of these career opportunities and help to build a diverse workforce of the future. My hope is that one day these students will return to join the ComEd team.”
The educational events are part of ComEd’s effort to cultivate the next wave of STEM talent and create the workforce of the future. While African-Americans make up 14 percent of college students, they represent only 8 percent of general engineering, 7 percent of mathematics and 5 percent of computer engineering majors. To urge the students toward STEM careers, ComEd engineers, employees and members of the Exelon African-American Resource Alliance (EAARA) serve as the students’ mentors for the programming.
To help ensure the Solar Spotlight program is engaging and memorable for its high school participants, ComEd has also enlisted the support of local organizations like Blue Studios, who are committed to building STEM pathways for kids of every age and background, and music personalities J Niice of B96 and DJ OddCouple. For more information about ComEd’s Solar Spotlight program, visit ComEd.com/SolarSpotlight
Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.