If your students or a team of students are interested in learning more about programming, engineering, and robotics, I would suggest pointing them toward learning how to program their familiar LEGO NXT brick with a new and more complex program — such as LabView. LabView is a programming environment made by National Instruments — the same company responsible for the NXT software — except LabView is largely used by adults for real engineering applications. The complexity of LabView makes this a program for only very experienced students near or of high school age.
Below are four videos made by a man on YouTube who wanted to give the world a tutorial on using LabView just for LEGO NXT bricks. The LabView program is very complex and may overwhelm your students, but if there is an interest, students should be directed toward tutorials like these.
LabView is different from other non-visual programming languages like C++ or Java, but is used by professional engineers. Having experience with a programming language like this greatly prepares a student for college-level engineering problems, and even professional ones. Information about acquiring a LabView Student Edition License can be found from National Instruments.