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Professor and Director of Materials Processing and Applications Development (MPAD) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Business & Engineering 254
(205) 996-5797

Research and Teaching Interests: Composite Materials, Manufacturing, Quality, Engineering Design

Office Hours: By appointment


  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Durban University of Technology, 1988
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, FAMu-FSU COE, 1999
  • Ph.D., Materials Engineering, UAB, 2005

Dr. Pillay has had a very unconventional path into academia. He served an apprenticeship as a boilermaker in the shipbuilding industry and worked as a tradesman in structural steel from 1980 to 1983. He continued his education part time and completed his UG in Mechanical Engineering at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Durban, South Africa in 1986. He worked for Toyota Manufacturing for eight years as a design and manufacturing engineering, before returning to DUT to setup a manufacturing lab and teach. He was awarded a USAID scholarship that allowed him to complete an MS in Mechanical Engineering at Florida A & M/Florida State College of Engineering, Tallahassee, Florida in 1999. He joined UAB in 2001 as a PhD student through a scholarship from the SA Government. He completed his PhD in 2005 and joined the MSE department in 2006.

Dr. Pillay has served as a research associate, assistant and associate professor of the MSE Department. He served as department chair from 2016-2019. His background in South Africa and industry experience gives him a unique perspective of engineering education, which he brings to the classroom when teaching. He also serves as the Director of the Design Lab and the MPAD Center (30,000 square feet), both state of the art, industrial scale manufacturing facilities dedicated to applications development and hands-on experience for students. Dr. Pillay is passionate about issues on social justice and creating access to engineering education for underserved communities and women.

  • Research Interests

    Dr. Pillay’s research interest is in the area of composite materials, advanced manufacturing, engineering education, entrepreneurship, recycling and sustainable materials. His research is funded through federal agencies (NSF, NASA, Department of Defense, etc.), local government (City of Birmingham, ALDOT) and industry (automotive, oil and gas, material suppliers, etc.). The MPAD Center has active non-disclosure agreements with about 60 companies. Dr. Pillay’s focus is to take fundamental materials research from the bench to applications and commercialization.

  • Recent Courses
    • MSE 350 Introduction to Materials
    • MSE 281 Physical Materials
    • MSE 498/9 Senior Design
    • MSE 401 Materials Processing
    • MSE 413/513 Composite Materials
    • MSE 532/632 Composites Manufacturing
    • MSE 610 Advanced Materials
    • Manufacturing and Applications Development
    • MSE 614/714 Process Quality control
  • Select Publications
    • Theresa Sullinsa, Selvum Pillay, Alastair Komus and Haibin Ning, Hemp Fiber Reinforced Polypropylene Composites: The Effects of Material Treatments, Composites Part B, accepted for publication 01/2017.
    • A. Constante, S. Pillay, Algae fiber polypropylene composites: Modeling of the degradation by solid state kinetics, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, November 2016, 133.
    • Peter W Barfknecht, Justin Martin, Brian Pillay, Uday K Vaidya, Gary M Gray, Single stream processing technique for in situ polymerization of glass fiber/polyamide-6 laminates, Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials, October, 2016.
    • Qiushi Wang, Haibin Ning, Uday Vaidya, Selvum Pillay, and Leigh-Ann Nolen, Fiber Content Measurement for Carbon Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic Composites Using Carbonization-In-Nitrogen Method, Journal of Thermoplastic Composites, Sept. 2016.
    • Qiushi Wang, Haibin Ning, Uday Vaidya, and Selvum Pillay, Mechanical behavior of long carbon fiber reinforced polyarylamide at elevated temperature, Journal of Material Sciences and Engineering. Nov. 2016
    • A. Constante, S. Pillay, Compression molding of algae fiber and epoxy composites: Modeling of elastic modulus, Journal of Reinforced Plastics and Composites, May 2016
    • A. Constante, S. Pillay, H. Ning, U.K. Vaidya, Utilization of algae blooms as a source of natural fibers for biocomposite materials: Study of morphology and mechanical performance of Lyngbya fibers, Algal Research, 12 (2015) 412-420.
    • Qiushi Wang, Haibin Ning, Uday Vaidya, Selvum Pillay, Leigh Hudson, Development of A Carbonization-in-Nitrogen Method for Measuring The Fiber Content of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Thermoset Composites; Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing; March, 2015
    • Qiushi Wang, Haibin Ning, Uday Vaidya, Selvum Pillay, and Leigh-Ann Nolen, A new procedure “Procedure H- Matrix Carbonization In A Nitrogen-Purging Furnace” is published in American Standards for Testing and Materials, International (ASTM International), ASTM D3171-Standard Test Methods for Constituent Content of Composite Materials, 2015
  • Academic Distinctions & Professional Societies
    • NSBE Birmingham Professional Chapter Educator of the Year (2015)
    • Departmental nominee for Presidents award for teaching 2015/6 and 2010/1
    • Winner of the Alabama Launchpad business plan competition (2009)
    • Faculty advisor UAB NSBE Chapter
    • Member of SAMPE, ACMA, SPE
  • Student Groups

    UAB NSBE/SPE/SAMPE Student Chapters