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Hersey student wins ComEd EV Rally race in Chicago

Published August 1, 2023
By Noah Festenstein | Journal & Topics

From left: The Lilac Laser team winners of the ComEd EV race from Saturday, July 29 featured Rachel Chen, Tabitha Woods, Elizabeth Meza, Ariel Gray and Vivienne DeRosa. (Photo by ComEd)

Among 45 young women competing in this year’s ComEd second annual EV Rally, a team of five high schoolers, which included Hersey incoming sophomore Vivienne DeRosa, won the race with their self-made rally car.

“The experience was really like none other,” DeRosa told Journal & Topics. “Where else in the country exists a program like this?”

The ComEd EV program, through its success from last year, went at it again by selecting 45 female students through a multi-day experience at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The program brings in female educators to teach high schoolers about electric vehicles, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In addition, all of the 45 students receive a $2,000 scholarship.

“This exciting program is a fun way for teens to get out of the classroom and experience STEM in a hands-on environment surrounded by like-minded peers,” ComEd Senior Vice President of Technical Services Michelle Blaise said. “The clean energy transition is coming quickly, and ComEd is working to ensure that we have a diverse pipeline of talent ready to fill these new roles and support our evolving communities.”

“The ComEd EV Rally is designed to prepare the next generation of the clean energy workforce, while simultaneously helping bridge the gender gap in STEM,” ComEd officials said in a statement.

As for DeRosa, her experience was something to be remembered for a long time. “The whole thing was kind of surreal,” she said. “I really had no idea what it was going to be like, but this was beyond expectations.”

For a couple of the nights, students needed to build their EV cars for Saturday’s race. “Building the car was also a lot of fun, though we weren’t building it from scratch,” DeRosa said. “The way ComEd had it planned out meant, from each activity, we were able to cover a new topic, whether it be circuits, or just building. Everything we also learned during the building and the challenges were also put to the test on race day, which is what put us ahead in the race.”

After four days of building, the students took their electric go-karts to the Museum of Science and Industry. “The race day was beyond expectation,” DeRosa said. “There was this huge setup with a track, a stage, posters everywhere as well as so many cameras.”

Winning their heat, DeRosa’s team, filled with other girls from Chicago-area schools, made a game plan — with DeRosa leading off the race as a starter.  “The race was beyond fun, and something I’ll always remember,” she said. “We had gameplanned, our order, who led what challenge, everything.”

“The race started and I had gotten the inside track but had banged into the side in the process. Nonetheless, I kept going, my team kept going…  It was down to the wire. We crossed it and won! My teammates were nothing but supportive while I practically died of stress.”

Not only did DeRosa receive a $2,000 scholarship, but also an Ipad for winning challenges throughout the program. “It was honestly just a great experience and a cherry on top that we won,” she said. “Everyone who put it on was amazing and everyone I worked with was amazing. Couldn’t have seen it going better.”

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