Since it's a university project, I suggest you do the next:
- Ditch this board
- Buy a new one
- Develop the software (and hardware on a breadboard if applicable) on the new board
- When everything works (after much tweaking and testing) get a Wemos, which is smaller than a NodeMCU and doesn't have soldered on pins, and use that one instead
If you feel like (you're up to) it, you could even take a separate ESP module (not to develop with, but in your final design), but then you have to design all peripherals, like PSU, yourself: it will get you extra points though.
When you're new, don't start with a separate ESP (ESP-01 to ESP-14) module.
Get yourself a proper development board: NodeMCU - WeMos D1 - WeMos (UNO form factor) - Witty Board
ESP power requirements are 3.3V±10%@350mA
The ESP8266 IS NOT 5V tolerant on ANY pin (see item 5.14 on page 25 of the FAQ)
Thanks anyway! Good thing these boards are cheap!