Andrea (Andi) Frank is a Computer Science and Engineering PhD candidate studying robotics at UC San Diego’s Contextual Robotics Institute. Andi has worked on a range of projects throughout her PhD, from how robots can learn to improvise tools out of household objects to how deep learning can improve human-robot teamwork in hospitals. Currently she is working in the Cognitive Robotics Lab on her thesis researching how robots can turn unsolvable problems into solvable ones by using “common sense” to hypothesize new ways to interact with the world. Andi has always held a fervent fascination for all branches of science and a particular passion for cross-disciplinary collaboration in engineering. Beyond computer science, she received her BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied a range of scientific topics including biology, chemistry, electrical engineering, and more.

In addition to research, Andi is an experienced instructor, and has lectured in various graduate and undergraduate courses in UCSD’s Computer Science Department covering topics such as the theory of computation and mathematics of robotics. Before beginning her PhD, Andi developed and led an advanced engineering course for gifted, underserved high school students with the Penn’s Summer Mentorship Program, where students built, wired, and programmed their very own robots. As a scientist and an engineer, Andi is passionate about fostering curiosity and a love for learning in her teaching, and looks forward to introducing her students to the incredible variety of challenging problems and clever solutions found in engineering.

An East Coast girl at heart, Andi grew up near Philadelphia, living in the city proper for undergrad before moving to San Diego in 2017. When she takes off her engineering hat, Andi enjoys spending time outside hiking and camping. She is particularly fond of driving to Joshua Tree for a weekend of bouldering, her rock-hopping escapades having earned her the nickname “Mountain Goat” on several independent occasions. Andi’s other hobbies include playing the piano, playing video games, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends.