In this Tech Talk report, Time Warner Cable News’ Adam Balkin highlights some exciting projects on display at the the 2015 NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Research Expo.

When you think of engineering, what is the first thing that pops to mind? Well, if you thought of something boring, or worse, nothing came to mind, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s annual Research Expo might just change that thought process.

“Engineering is about really practical solutions to a number of issues that plague our society and it’s really about putting technology to the use of society," says Katepalli Sreenivasan, dean of engineering at NYU.

For example, take something like Biocrete - concrete made out of bacteria that uses the air around it to become self-healing.

“Bacteria absorbs the carbon dioxide from the air and helps fill in the cracks which are present in the concrete, the micro-cracks," says student Rohit Bajaj.

Also being highlighted - a robotic fish created with two purposes in mind. Initially, it will be used to help teach students STEM subjects, and in particular, how robotics can mimic biology. However, the fish can also potentially be used to help its non-robotic peers.

“If there’s like some disaster in the oceans we can use these robotic fish to guide them, the live fish, away from danger,” says student Paul Phamduy.

Caesar is a robot designed to make robots more personable by literally putting a more human face on robots.

“Humans are social beings,” says student Jared Frank. “They treat inanimate objects, like pressing an elevator button really hard to try to make it close or slamming their computer keyboard when they’re computer’s not working. So if they’re going to interact with robots in the near future in their homes, at work, then we’re going to need to create robots with the ability to interact with people socially."

Developers are also now working on tweaking Caesar so that he can be used to help autistic children learn, and in perhaps a more engaging way, how to better interpret human facial expressions.