YPSILANTI, Mich. -  Students from Utica, Milford Huron Valley and Pontiac Northern high schools teamed up to win the state championship in the FIRST Robotics competition on Saturday, according to a press release and media reports.

FIRST Robotics — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is akin to a varsity sport for engineering, science and math, according to a press release from FIRST in Michigan. Teams of students build robots which compete on a large playing field, complete with referees, scoreboards and time clocks, the release said.

At the state level, rather than one-on-one competition, teams from three schools join forces to compete against other triads. The schools listed above were the winning allies this year. Runners up were the Fremont, Berkley and Grand Rapids Creston high schools alliance, the release said.

The Grand Rapids Press reported that a robot built by students at Grand River Preparatory High School in Kentwood took Rookie All-Star honors at the event. Those students now are eligible for the world championships in Georgia in April, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, “Kentwood school’s robot advances to world championship,” April 6, 2009

FIRST in Michigan, “Teams from Milford, Utica and Pontiac Northern High School Win FIRST Robotics State Championship,” April 5, 2009

Michigan Education Report, “It’s hard, but it’s fun: Project seeks to enlarge ranks of scientists, engineers,” July 15, 2008