ArtStation runs some interesting high-energy contests (see the results from their recent contest with ILM at ILM Challenge Results). These contests are more geared towards professionals and consultants, those looking to break into the field but that have already done a fair amount of work. Still, figure this might be of interest to some of you out there. I don't get the feel it's a way for these companies to get free work (they don't really need it), but do seem to be a good way to work your skills.
They are kicking off their next spec event, an opportunity to test drive MODO and MARI within a project framework. Information in their challenges area. If any of you end up participating in one of these, make sure to let us all know!