Shelton High Robotics team named overall best in regional competition

The Shelton High School Robotics team was recognized as the overall best robotics team at the UTC Connecticut Regional FIRST Robotics Competition held in Hartford March 28 to 30.

Team #230 The Gaelhawks, was awarded the chairman’s award for overall excellence. The top award at the competition recognizes achievement in every aspect of team organization.

The chairman’s award represents the spirit of FIRST. It honors the team that, in the judges’ estimation, best represents a model for other teams to emulate. It embodies the goals and mission of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) by promoting science and technology in their school and overall community.

‘Talon XIV’

The UTC Connecticut Regional Competition featured 56 teams from New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut who battled for three days at the Connecticut Convention Center.

This year’s challenge, Ultimate Ascent, required robots to launch Frisbees into a target zone and also climb atop a pyramid structure.

Shelton’s robot “Talon XIV” teamed up with Guilford and Amsterdam High School to advance to the regional championship finals where it was narrowly defeated by the number one seeded alliance from New York, New Hampshire and Southington.

The Shelton team was ultimately awarded the Regional Chairman’s Award because of their ongoing efforts to advance STEM related learning activities and community outreach projects.

A panel of judges interviewed team members about their activities, watched a submitted video from each team, and read through application essays to determine which team best exemplified the ideals of the FIRST organization.

The official FIRST description of the award reads: “The Chairman’s Award was created to keep the central focus of FRC on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become scientists, engineers, and technologists."


The chairman’s award represents the spirit of FIRST. It honors the team that, in the judges’ estimation, best represents a model for other teams to emulate, and which embodies the goals and purpose of FIRST. It remains FIRST’s most prestigious award.”

The Shelton team was recognized for their commitment to excellence in several areas. The high school team currently mentors 5 FLL (FIRST Lego League) robotics teams from the lower grades, hosts a CT State FLL Qualifying Tournament, and does presentations at local elementary schools promoting reading and technology.

In addition, the team demonstrates their robot at high school functions such as the pep rallies, football games, and parent orientations.

Students and mentors from the team also present each year at the Housatonic Community College “Women in Technology Day.” Community service projects include a booth at Shelton Day, the Relay for Life and Adopt-a-family.

The team will now advance to the World Championship event from April 24 to 28 in Missouri, where they will compete against 300 other Regional and District winners from across the globe in both robot competition and for the Global Chairman’s Award recognition.

The video presentation of the team’s chairman’s submission can be viewed at

From the judges

Here is what the judges had to say about this award-winning team: “If you want your team to be more effective, more energetic, more engaged in the community, sponsors and others in FIRST, study the methods of this 2013 Connecticut Regional Chairman’s Award Winner. They demonstrate remarkable strength and breadth of team organization and relationships.

"Their well-documented, highly positive impact is widespread across age and geography," the judges continued. "Their energy is contagious. They imbue their team members with new capabilities, earned self-confidence and many ideas for contributing to their team and society. They are a seamless organization that has a place for everyone to fit in. They have collected their pieces and put them together for a wonderful 230 feeling!”

Additionally, SHS junior Tyler Tallo was recognized as a dean’s list finalist, which is the top student award given at the competition. The award is comparable to the tournament MVP and qualifies Tyler to be eligible for the global dean’s list award in St. Louis.

Sponsored by the Shelton Public School System and local technology companies Sikorsky, OEM Controls, Pitney Bowes, and Intuitive Surgical, the team is grateful for the continued support of their long-time sponsors.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy spoke at the opening ceremonies of the competition and recognized the achievements of all of the students and mentors present for their “commitment to the future of Connecticut and our world.”

Sponsorship opportunities

Anyone interested in sponsoring the team is asked to contact team advisor, John Niski, at Shelton High School for more information on how to help the team raise the nearly $15,000 needed for registration and travel expenses.

The team is currently in its 15th year of operation and members include about 25 SHS students and volunteer adult mentors from Sikorsky, OEM Controls, Pitney Bowes and other area technology companies.

For more information, check out the team website at