Here are a couple of articles about NASA's 2011 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge student competition:
University Of Wisconsin Students Win Space Habitat Competition - NASA
UW-Madison undergrads win NASA habitat design competition - University of Wisconsin
You can find more information about the 2012 challenge here:
eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge - National Space Grant Foundation:
The Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) project will offer multiple X-Hab awards of $5K - $45K each to design and produce functional products of interest to the HDU project as proposed by university teams according to their interests and expertise. The prototypes produced by the university teams will be integrated onto an existing NASA built operational habitat prototype. ... The Foundation anticipates that approximately 6-8 awards will be made under this solicitation. ...
eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) 2012 Academic Innovation Challenge Solicitation (PDF) - The 2011 competition theme was inflatable habitats, but the 2012 one is much more open-ended, which can be either a good or bad thing in a prize competition depending on your point of view. The suggested topic list, covering a "Deep Space Habitat Systems" theme, includes "top-down" topics like a habitat demonstration module or a habitat structure that can be tested in underwater analog test sites like NEEMO. It also includes habitat subsystems such as sensors, recycling systems, geological sample management systems, telemedicine, a virtual reality environment, and many others.