Thank you Fastolfe
I just found this thread and started reading the replies. I find it hard to believe that most people just assume there is no other motive behind this assignment. While it is very possible that the constraints placed on the project are just plain silly, there is also a reasonable chance that there are other lessons being taught.
I have a close, talented friend who flunked out of Carnegie Mellon because he felt he could improve his projects and that his CS profs were "silly" with some of their assignments.