'The future is female': Girls build race cars to compete in 2019 Icebox Derby

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It may be summer but some Chicago-area girls are getting a jump on their studies.

Thirty girls, ages of 14 to 18, will compete in the 2019 ComEd Icebox Derby. On Monday, they started transforming a recycled refrigerator into a race car with their science, technology engineering and math skills.

"We are almost done with the wiring and we just need to get a couple more key pieces on," said Stephanie Hu, an Ice Box Derby participant.

"I like that it's really hands on. I feel like it don't really get that in the classroom, it's on the computer or paper, but I like working with my hands," said Cynthia Rivas, an Ice Box Derby participant.

Inspired by STEM, the program tests speed and craftsmanship as well as analytical skills and the ability to work together.

"Boys are kinda rowdy, not to generalize, but in a team of girls it's really fun and really calm, and we communicate really well," Hu said.

It's estimated less than a quarter of people working in STEM fields are women, but those in the industry realize the value of changing that statistic.

"We want to show them what they could be doing what their future could, we want them to get excited," said Jean Medina, ComEd's Vice President of Communications.

ComEd pairs the teens up with some of their female engineers to complete the cars.

"I really like doing this, so I think that I could make a career out of this," Rivas said. "I want to be a civil engineer, so hopefully it all works out."

"It's great, it's so exciting, and the future is female, and it's so bright," Medina said.

The Icebox Derby race will be held Saturday at Daley Plaza. There will be STEM activities for everyone.

Each participant will receive a $1,500 scholarship.
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