Design Technology and Engineering

About Us

Our Mission and Philosophy

Our department is dedicated to empowering students to take purposeful action. We teach students to look for the educational opportunities in taking on the challenges that they encounter, discover and create. Students learn more deeply when they are engaged in solving problems and working on challenges that inspire them. Think back to your own education, what educational experiences do you have the strongest memories of? What if a huge part of your education could be like those highlight memories? We think it can.

There are several unifying threads in our department. We are committed to direct instruction for the development of social-emotional skills. Social-emotional skills enable kids to understand themselves, work in groups to solve problem and to develop the complex and critical ability to empathize with clients, fellow designers and even 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 Punahou Aims.

Our program also 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, 3d printers, laser cutters, coding, electronics, robotics and virtual reality but also are inclusive of traditional building skills such as sewing, woodcraft, and metal fabrication among many others.

Design thinking is the central system students use to organize their creative activity into meaningful action. We have developed a Punahou-specific take on design thinking that serves as the basis of common understanding across our K-12 community. The design thinking model emphasizes developing a deep understanding of an issue or a person before defining their needs, brainstorming solutions, creating prototypes and testing 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.

We believe that for a Punahou education to maximize the potential for meaning and relevance it must be based in understanding (Empathy). Therefore technical skills, social emotional competence, creative thinking, a bias towards action and a resilience to failure all flow from an integrative experience. Our students are naturally drawn to solve the problems and fill the needs that they discover as part of their overall educational experience at Punahou. The Punahou Aims look outward toward solving the major issues that are in the world. Our department is designed to prepare students to live the Punahou aims by practicing the social-emotional, technical and design thinking skills they must have to be leaders.