I just learned of NACLO, and thought I'd share it with people. This is the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, and it's a FREE contest that's held in late January next year (2013). This seems like a cool career path (computational linguistics) that students may not have been aware of.
Here's a link to past contests. And there look to be super fun problems.
Some things that Computational Linguists think about and work on:
* speech recognition
* detection of deception
* search engines
* spam detection
* how (and why) do languages change?
* what do human languages have in common?