Former Waxahachie resident and 2018 Midlothian Heritage High graduate, Nate Texada Jr., utilized his summer to create a splash pad that will hopefully soon benefit Haitian orphans.

The now University of Oklahoma freshmen participated in the AT&T Summer Bridge Program project organized through the Gallogy College of Engineering. Texada was one of 50 incoming freshmen students who developed the cool, entertainment for over 300 orphans at Pwoje Espwa, an orphanage in Haiti.

The splash pad designed by Texada and his team mimicked a soccer field. Texada explained soccer is one of Haiti's favorite sports and it was important to him that the kids had some familiarity.

"The thing that stood out the most about AT&T Summer Bridge for me was being able to collaborate and work with other engineers on our splash pad project," Texada explained. "I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of engineering a lot."

Teams were challenged with a task to design, build and test splash pads. Students had to consider environmental factors such as water waste, solar power and pressure. Human components such as safety and security were evaluated to complete the project. The winning designs will be taken to Haiti next summer.

Two awards were also given — best design and best presentation of the project. The group of judges recognized Texada's team for first place in the presentation category.

Since the program's establishment in 2007, more than 300 students have participated in the AT&T Summer Bridge Program, which is a four-week, on-campus residential program. Most importantly, the program gives engineering students an advantage in the rigorous engineering curriculum and helping them achieve math-readiness.

“Through this program, students gained tremendous skills and knowledge,” said Tom Landers, dean of the Gallogly College of Engineering. “They develop valuable relationships and execute challenging projects that will help guide them as they transition into the Gallogly College of Engineering.”

Students also gain early exposure to coursework and get to socialize with new classmates, faculty and staff, and earn early college credit at the same time.

“I participated in this program because I wanted to get a head start on college,” Texada said. “I’m thankful I had the opportunity to make new friends that share the same interests as I do.”

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450