I was in your situation a year ago (although a bit different). I am a student of Industrial Automatics and Informatics. I didn't want to go deep into microcontrollers, capacitors and the like, I am a software developer, and I wanted my project to be mainly focused on programming, rather than designing circuits. However this was not entirely possible, so I had to stick some hardware stuff also.

A professor gave me an excellent idea, which wasn't quite original, but still, it saved me. He told me to build a 3D object scanner. The hardware part consists of controlling a stepper motor through the parallel port, which is quite easy and there is alot of dcumentation about this on the internet. The other part consists of using a webcam, setting its parameters and taking shots.

The working principle can be found here (it's not my site): http://www.muellerr.ch/engineering/laserscanner/default.htm

For this I am using C# 2.0, Visual Studio 2005 Express Edition, Avalon/WPF, DirectShow, Direct3D, and maybe more. Anyway, the project isn't yet finished, after presenting it, I wil most likely put it somewhere, with source code included.