AutoCAD vs. ProEng.
Well, I figure I'll buck in my $0.02. First of all, if you would like to get a tast of Pro/E, you can download Pro/Desktop for free here
Pro/Desktop is a slimmed down version of Pro/E that will allow you to get the feel of the program without the big upfront cost. As for which is better, etc, here is my take on it.
I have used AutoCAD for 9 years now (starting with R12 and up to 2002). While in school I was exposed to Pro/E and Autodesk Inventor. I'm not going get into the differences of the programs as many of my colleagues here have done a good job of comparing AutoCAD and Pro/E's pluses and minuses. However, I will say this. If your main goal is to produce quality mechanical drawings, AutoCAD is where it's at. If you're more interesting in provided a strong design tool to your team, then Pro/E (or most solid modeling softwares) are where you want to be.
I would say that the final point in that last paragraph is my biggest point. I have not worked with Pro/E in about 2 years, but I do currently work with Autodesk Inventor R6 and have noticed that the actual drafting capabilities of these programs is no where near the quality that you can produce with a solid 2D program like AutoCAD.
On a side note, I am surprised that the college has waited this long to update their design software. AutoCAD 2000, 2000i, and 2002 have all been released since R14. You're working with very antiquated software, so, regardless of what they get, welcome to the 21st century.