I spent a lot of time today going over the basics and doing some building tutorials, so I think I have a pretty good handle on that. I still want to look into scripting a little more and look at the University of Texas site.
My sister does a lot in Second Life, and when I was talking to her about the project, she said she had heard of something similar. Apparently another group was working on the same thing (here's an article about it from the middle of July), but she said that there was nothing there when she went to visit. Maybe they abandoned the project?