The Punahou Design Technology and Engineering department operates a student-centered, school-wide environment designed to empower development of social-emotional skills, technical abilities and applied design processes needed to translate the Aims of a Punahou Education into positive and purposeful action in the real world.
Students have access to cutting edge labs and workshops, faculty support and mentorship across the campus. They can access resources through courses, clubs, classroom integration and independent projects.
Design thinking is one of two central systems students use to organize their creative activity into meaningful action. The design thinking model emphasizes developing a deep understanding of an issue or a person before defining specifications, brainstorming solutions, creating prototypes and testing potential solutions to learn more about the user. Each phase of the design cycle is strongly linked to habits of mind such as resilience to failure, life-long learning and openness to new ideas which are key components of our direct instruction.
Kū Hala is the other primary design system at Punahou. Kū Hala is a placed-based approach to design that emphasizes enviro-personal learning and moves through phases of inspiration, creation and release. This system is highly specific to Hawai‘i and Punahou but is based on a conceptual framework that any group can use to understand design in their personal context.
The K – 12 engineering program offers students a continuous and articulated set of technical skill building experiences. It is important that as their understanding of problems and challenges in the world grows, so too does their ability to design, build, test and deploy increasingly realistic and sustainable solutions to those problems. Technical experiences include access to rapid prototyping technologies such as CAD software, CNC output machines, 3-D printers, laser cutters, CNC water jets, coding, electronics, robotics and virtual reality but also are inclusive of traditional building skills such as sewing, woodcraft, cooking, gardening, sail making and metal fabrication.
The department is committed to direct instruction for the development of social-emotional skills, which enable students to understand themselves, work in groups to solve problems and to develop the complex and critical ability to empathize with clients, fellow designers and people from different cultures. Even more importantly, social-emotional skills transcend the design process and are critical to developing the character needed to live the Aims of a Punahou Education.