African-American students explore STEM careers and renewable
energy in fifth-annual Solar Spotlight program
The future of energy requires fresh perspective and diverse talent to tackle evolving challenges. This Black History Month, ComEd is holding its fifth-annual Solar Spotlight program to help power this future, working with African-American high school students from across the communities ComEd serves to explore STEM fields through hands-on, educational projects.
“We use innovation and inclusivity to help solve problems in our communities, power our society and shape the future of our planet,” said Joe Dominguez, CEO of ComEd. “Our youth are our most valuable resource as we take on new challenges in a changing world. Solar Spotlight is designed to empower students in their STEM interests and be a force for positive impact in the world.”
More than 90 high school students will participate in ComEd’s Solar Spotlight. They will work alongside STEM professionals, including ComEd engineers and executives, as they learn about solar energy technology and participate in hands-on activities to see its real-world application:
- On Saturday, Feb. 8, students will build solar cells to power miniature streetlights at the ComEd Training Center in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Joe Dominguez and Candice Smith, engineering director at Boeing, will share their inspirational stories with the students.
- On Saturday, Feb. 15, students willbuild portable solar suitcases from We Care Solar at Illinois Tech. Serving as backup power sources for lights, cell phones and computers during emergencies, the suitcases will be sent with personal notes from the students to areas recently devastated by natural disasters, including Kenya and the Bahamas.
Solar Spotlight is one of several programs ComEd has created to engage the next generation of local STEM talent and increase diversity in those fields. While demand for STEM professionals is growing in Illinois, African-Americans remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce. In 2018, African-Americans held less than 5 percent of STEM jobs in Illinois, despite making up more than 14 percent of the state’s population, according to the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition.
More than 200 students have participated in the ComEd Solar Spotlight program for Black History Month over the past four years. It is the first in a series of STEM programs that ComEd leads each year. In the summer, ComEd’s Icebox Derby will challenge Chicagoland girls to turn recycled fridges into electric racecars, and in September, ComEd will host a second Solar Spotlight program during Hispanic Heritage Month.
For more information, visit ComEd.com/SolarSpotlight.