Maha Haji, PhD

Assistant Professor

Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

555 Upson Hall


Prof. Maha Haji joined Cornell University in 2021 as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Systems Engineering. At Cornell, her lab develops designs for symbiotic offshore systems to sustainably extract resources from the ocean such as power, water, and food, as well as mineral resources key to the progress of clean energy. Previously, Prof. Haji was an MAE Faculty Fellow at Cornell and a Postdoctoral Associate in the Engineering Systems Laboratory in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT where her research focused on utilizing multidisciplinary design optimization to develop a floating platform, known as PEARL, to provide recharging and data offloading capacity for autonomous underwater vehicles. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering in 2017 from the Joint Program between MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she focused on the design and prototyping of a symbiotic system to harvest uranium from seawater. Prof. Haji has worked in industry as an engineering consultant at ATA Engineering, where she used analysis-driven design to solve problems ranging from aircraft and rockets to robotics and rollercoasters. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.


Doctoral Students

Matthew Haefner

Ph.D. Student

Systems Engineering


Matt is a Ph.D. student in Systems Engineering focusing on the connection between fluid and thermal systems and energy sources. He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in May of 2020 as well as his M.Eng. in December of 2020. In addition to his work with Prof. Haji, he has conducted research with Dr. Avedisian on biofuel droplet combustion. As an undergrad he also played trumpet in Cornell’s Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and occasionally in Cornell’s Chamber Orchestra. Outside of research, he enjoys playing the trumpet, golfing, and hiking.


Olivia Murphy

Ph.D. Student

Mechanical Engineering


Olivia is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering interested in offshore integrated wind-wave energy systems, sustainable mineral extraction, and green hydrogen production. She graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in May 2020 and an MS in Engineering in August 2021. As an undergraduate research student, she studied scaffold designs for bioinspired craniofacial bone implants and optimal axis orientation for offshore wind turbines. Her master’s thesis investigated biofuel secondary breakup processes through parametric and comparative analyses of secondary breakup models. In the SEA Lab, Olivia is working on modeling and analyzing an offshore wind-powered system that extracts hydrogen and critical minerals from seawater. Outside of the lab, Olivia is a proud plant mom who enjoys tending to her plants. She also enjoys walking trails, traveling, and spending quality time with her friends and family.

Rebecca McCabe

Ph.D. Student

Mechanical Engineering


Personal Website

Becca is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering interested in the design of renewable energy systems. She enjoys solving integrated mechanical, electromagnetic, fluid, and controls problems through simulation, systems design, and prototyping. Becca graduated from MIT in June 2021 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. At MIT, she focused on electric vehicles, writing her bachelor’s thesis on electric motor optimization for Formula SAE cars. Her current research involves offshore wind and wave energy. In her free time, she enjoys running, swimming, and tinkering with side projects.

Master’s Students

Ryan Cheng

M.Eng. Student

Systems Engineering


Ryan is an M.Eng. student in Systems Engineering and is interested in renewable energy systems, semiconductor manufacturing, and supply chain systems. He received his B.S. degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Washington-Seattle in June of 2021. During his undergrad, he worked with Professor Zelda on COVID-19 vaccination program decision making and vaccine distribution strategies. In the SEA Lab, Ryan is working on the combined offshored wind-wave energy system. Outside of the lab, he enjoys running, swimming and watching football.

Mumtaziah Faaz

M.Eng. Student

Material Science and Engineering


Zia is an M.Eng. student in Materials Science and Engineering interested in green material, product’s life cycle, and sustainable systems. She graduated from Institut Teknologi Bandung with B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in October 2017 and pursued 2-years professional career as a product engineer in the manufacturing industry, focusing on new product industrialization and the product’s life cycle management, before pursuing her master’s degree. Zia is currently working with Prof. Haji on a material selection for a mineral extraction system at seawater. In addition, she enjoys kinetics activities such as Yoga and Zumba, reading, and playing board games in her free time.

Owais Khalid

M.Eng. Student

Chemical Engineering


Owais is an M.Eng. student in chemical engineering and is interested in a wide variety of different areas, ranging from energy systems to pharmaceuticals. He graduated with his BSc degree in chemical engineering from the University of Alberta in 2019 and gained two years of engineering work experience in Canada before starting his Master’s degree at Cornell in 2021. In the SEA Lab, Owais is currently working on IPHROS, an integrated system which combines desalination with energy production from hydropower. He enjoys travelling, hiking, and playing soccer in his free time.