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ComEd Ideathon Challenges Bronzeville Students to Develop Smart Technology

Second Annual Event Launches Jan. 12 at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School

Pictured Left to Right: Rev. James M. Moody, Sr., Pastor of Quinn Chapel in Bronzeville; student Breshayia Kelly; Melissa Washington, Vice President of Governmental & External Relations at ComEd; student Ashton Mitchell; and Sandor Williams, Manager of Smart Grid & Technology at ComEd. Kelly and Mitchell, seniors at King College Prep High School in Bronzeville, won the competition last year with a prototype of emergency vehicle clearing system that automatically controls traffic lights for emergency vehicles.

 CHICAGO (Jan. 11, 2019) – ComEd is challenging high school students in the South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville to create innovative technology concepts that have the potential to benefit their community and earn cash prizes.  

The second annual ComEd Ideathon kicks-off on January 12 at the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School at 2641 South Calumet Avenue in Bronzeville.  High school students who live in or attend high school in Bronzeville can form teams of up to five students. They will partner with college mentors and engineers from Accenture, AECOM, Burns & McDonnell, ComEd, Gray Matter Analytics, KDM Engineering, SDI Presence, Illinois Tech, and the National Society of Black Engineers. The STEM education program is part of ComEd’s Bronzeville Community of the Future initiative, which is focused on leveraging smart grid technology and related services to address community needs and interests.

Twelve teams participated in the program last year. A team from King College Prep took top honors for a micro-processor concept to help prevent accidents when emergency vehicles travel through busy urban intersections. A team from the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School won second place for a vibrating bracelet designed to alert people with impaired hearing of emergency sirens. A team from De La Salle Institute finished third with a device that restores power to home appliances through wireless connectivity and a phone app.

Pictured Left to Right: Dr. Vanesa Scott-Thompson, Principal at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago (YWLCS) in Bronzville with two of her students, Taneisha Spiller and Mykiah Jordan. Spiller and Jordan won second place in the ComEd Ideathon last year for a device designed to alert the hearing-impaired of sirens and other emergency notification systems. Founded in 1999, Young Women's Leadership Charter School (YWLCS) is the only all-girls STEM charter school in Chicago for grades 9-12.

 “The first Ideathon exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of creativity and participation,” said Shay Bahramirad, vice president engineering and smart grid, ComEd. “We’re excited to work with returning students and newcomers to help them learn basic engineering principles and create a solution that has the potential to make a positive impact on the community.” 

Bahramirad said that students will learn how to use microprocessors to develop sensors that can relay helpful information and enable a community to function efficiently, sustainably, reliably and more safely. Winning criteria include the potential to deliver community benefits related to health, safety, sustainability, connectedness, mobility, efficiency and education. Teams advancing to the final round will present their ideas and technologies to a panel of judges at the final Spark Tank event in April. Cash prizes of $2,000, $1,000 and $500 will be presented to first, second and third-place finishers and will be distributed among team members.

Other Community of the Future initiatives include a microgrid that will enhance the security and resiliency of the electric system; an electric vehicle transportation service for seniors; off-grid wind and solar LED streetlights; a community energy storage pilot; a smart interactive kiosk that provides real-time information along with emergency alerts, wayfinding and public wi-fi; and sensor-based technologies that are being piloted in conjunction with Illinois Tech.  


ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Posted in Announcements, Business News, Education, Computers and Digital Technology

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