Robocats was founded in 2005 by Harold Ellis, a Bacon Academy Tech Ed teacher, along with Keith Deslandes (father of team member, Chris Deslandes). Team 1699's first game played was in 2005, called Triple Play. After 15 years of service from Keith (“Mr. D”), the team transitioned to new leadership in 2021. Robocat Team members are Bacon Academy students in grades 9–12. The team is a Colchester Public Schools sponsored club and the district supports the program through in-kind use of Bacon Academy Tech Wing space, storage, club advisor stipend, and administrative services. 

2024 Team

Back Row: Logan Lammey, Evan Paquette, Chase Vendrillo, Kevin Reas, Alex Mauldin, Nate Schulze, John Dalton,

Middle: Ian Sanders, Sam Ringuette, Charlie Rose, Callum Cuadro, Evan Lovegrove, John Marks, Mile Viggiani

Front: Sophie Melmed, Eli Banks, Taylor Gerst, Abby Belding, Julia Cavaliere, and Ben King 

Missing: Landon Vigil, Patrick McGregor, TJ Crowell

2023 Team

Back Row: Tom Praisner, Cindy Praisner, Alan Mocksfield, John Spaulding, Nate Schulze, Seth Crampton, Julia Cavaliere, Logan Lammey, John Dalton, Chase Vendrillo, Charlie Rose, Alex Mauldin, Noah Auden, Sophie Melmed, Kevin Reas, and Brian Reas.

Front Row: Landon Vigil, Gabe Kruse, Eli Banks, Captain Brooke Rodgers, Robot Janky Sue, Callum Cuadro, and Captain Sam Ringuette.

Missing: Abby Belding, Jason Belding, Mark Noniewicz, Brad Graham, and Jack Spaulding

FIRST® Robotics Competition Mentors

FIRST is a mentor-based program. Mentors are adult volunteers from our community who donate a great deal of their time and effort to make Team 1699 possible. The expertise and guidance of the mentors serves as a catalyst for student learning. Mentors engage and inspire students in ways far beyond science and technology. Mentors teach, coach, guide, and lead alongside the students. They enable both students and adults to appreciate the value of sportsmanship, teamwork, and FIRST’s credo of ​Gracious Professionalism®​

Alan Mocksfield

Lead Mentor

Process and Programming

Application Development Director at Cigna

B.S. in Computer Science

Tom Praisner

Lead Mentor

Design and Risk Management

Fellow, Turbomachinery Aerodynamics, Pratt and Whitney

B.S. Mechanical Engineering

M.S. Computer-Integrated Mechanical Engineering Systems

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering 

Cindy Praisner

Lead Mentor

Education and Administration

Early Childhood Coordinator

B.S. Elementary Education, M.S. Special Education, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

John Spaulding

Safety, Design, and Procurement 

Firefighter, Paramedic, & Deputy Fire Marshal 

Jason Belding

Sub-team Mentor


Seth Crampton

Programming and Electronics

Tsunami Tsolutions

  B.S. Computer Science

Brad Graham

"The Old Guy"

Retired US Navy Electrician / Retired Principal Engineer from Electric Boat

BS in Computer Science / AS in Nuclear Technology 

Mark Noniewicz

Build Support

Dominion Energy

Systems Engineering

Licensed Nuclear Power Plant Operator

BS in Mechanical Engineering

Brian Reas

Build Support

Superintendent of East Haddam Schools

B.A. in Economics

M.S. Education 

Sixth-year Certificate in Administration

Superintendent Certificate

Lenny Viggiani

CNC Routing and Electronics

Senior Chief Petty Officer, USN (Retired) 

Electronics Operations, Testing, Maintenance and Troubleshooting 

Jack Spaulding

Jr Mentor- Welding

Advanced Welding Certificate

In Process- AS in Welding Technology