CHICAGO — You’ll find teenagers building their future on Chicago’s Northwest Side at Com Ed’s STEM Lab they started a decade ago.

The lab aims to reach students in communities underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

“We have about 70 African American students here with us today and they’re building mini robots, our way of introducing them to STEM education and STEM careers.” Melissa Washington with Com Ed said.

Khamari Carter is a freshman at Leo High School and sees the possibilities from this event.

“It’s cool that you can build that yourself without any help,” Carter said. “I’m enjoying this moment and I can use some of this in my future.”

It’s that connection to meet others that is key for both mentors who work in STEM careers and other students who applied to be at the event, like Jillian Drake.

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“Being able to see all these Black students here, learning how to build robots, which is already a really fun experience, to be part of that and learn myself is really enjoyable,” Drake said. “I love it.”

For Com Ed, it’s a simple way, not only for community outreach, but exposure for young minds to see themselves in an ever-growing and technology-rich future.

“That is encouraging the students that they can be future engineers, they can be future technologists,” Washington said. “So it’s important that they see someone they can relate to, someone who looks like them or comes from a common community.”