I teach art and design so let me give you some headache-saving advice
if you have, as you say, no hardware background or experience, then this is a really complicated project to undertake as your first hardware project. About the simplest thing you could do would be to take an existing wifi detector and hack it, but even that would take a several weeks or even months to go from zero experience to working prototype. Unless they're teaching you electronics classes at the same time- are they?
You can probably exercise other skills: conceptual, model-making, 3D/2D visualization etc that will get you way further down the road (in terms of concept and exploration of the issues at hand), than tearing your hair out trying to get a wifi-based prototype working from scratch!
No disrespect, but that depends on which side of your brain you predominantly use... In my case "conceptual, model-making, 3D/2D visualization etc" would take years to grasp (if ever), the results would likely be poor and I would have no hair left
But hacking a device to do something else, whilst a still a steep learning curve would come much easier.
Having said that, I agree it is a complicated project to undertake first up and would consider something that could be undertaken in smaller modules... But it is amazing how much the human mind can learn when challenged..
Look forward to hearing your progress