Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Spotlight On: Sarah Ali

Sarah Ali, Clinical Assistant Professor of Engineering, wins Innovative Idea competition from the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Society

Sarah Ali smiling in front of a black background

Sarah Ali, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering within the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, was awarded first prize in the Innovative Idea competition at the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IEOM) Society’s seventh annual North American conference in June of 2022. Ali earned the honor for the design, verification, and testing (DVT) protocol and verification system she developed to accurately detect and verify the detection of acoustic signals, such as those emitted from security alarm systems, that indicate emergencies or life-threatening situations.

“This national award and the innovative efforts by Dr. Ali underscore the incredible importance of the relationship between the teaching that faculty undertake in the classroom teachings and their ability to create real world solutions,” said Peter J. Schraeder, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago. “We are grateful for Dr. Ali and her commitment to advancing both the College’s Engineering program and our connections to the professional world of industrial engineering.”

Ali, who specializes in biomedical engineering, originally began developing her innovative DVT protocol and verification system as a teaching tool for a course she was teaching: ENGR 343, Medical Device Software Development II.

“I thought of prototyping a security alarm system as an example to show to students because these systems can both detect sounds and generate sound when needed,” Ali explained, “I decided to implement the idea because both it was a relevant application in industries and for teaching.”

Ali used LabVIEW, a graphical programming software, to develop her DVT protocol. But designing a protocol alone isn’t enough, which Ali knows firsthand with experience as a software engineer at GE Healthcare and Size Stream.

“The verification of any engineering system is crucial in industrial engineering, because industries cannot sell or implement a protocol or product without first verifying that it works,” Ali explained.

With tools like Simulink, which Ali used to design her verification system, software engineers like Ali can ensure that their code will work when implemented in the real world, such as with medical devices.

After successfully designing and developing her DVT protocol and verification system, Ali decided to attend the conference to share her invention with her peers. She joined the IEOM Society, which is composed of academics and industry professionals, to participate in its annual international conference. This conference provides opportunities for networking and exchanging knowledge, such as new inventions, codes, or theories, to ultimately support advancement in the field of industrial engineering and operations management. Upon sharing her inventions, she was honored with the Innovative Idea Award.

This award has not only bolstered Loyola’s engineering program on a global level, but it has also attracted attention from industry leaders such as Airbus, Europe’s leading aerospace corporation, which is interested in implementing Ali’s idea into their own aviation systems. Airbus has also asked Ali to start a chapter of the IEOM Society here at Loyola, which will enable undergraduate students to establish connections in industrial engineering both in the United States and around the world.

“I want to develop algorithms and software to share them with my students and the Loyola community first and foremost,” Ali said. “But I am also happy and honored to be able to establish and expand relationships within industrial engineering through my work at Loyola.”

Learn more about Sarah Ali, PhD, and her work here.


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About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest of Loyola University Chicago’s 15 schools, colleges, and institutes. More than 150 years since its founding, the College is home to 20 academic departments and 33 interdisciplinary programs and centers, more than 450 full-time faculty, and nearly 8,000 students. The 2,000+ classes that we offer each semester span an array of intellectual pursuits, ranging from the natural sciences and computational sciences to the humanities, the social sciences, and the fine and performing arts. Our students and faculty are engaged internationally at our campuses in Rome, Italy, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as well as at dozens of University-sponsored study abroad and research sites around the world. Home to the departments that anchor the University’s Core Curriculum, the College seeks to prepare all of Loyola’s students to think critically, to engage the world of the 21st century at ever deepening levels, and to become caring and compassionate individuals. Our faculty, staff, and students view service to others not just as one option among many, but as a constitutive dimension of their very being. In the truest sense of the Jesuit ideal, our graduates strive to be “individuals for others.” For further information about the College of Arts and Sciences, please visit our website.