Harvard Students Build BBQ Brisket Bot
Fourth of July may be over but this robot can still come in handy for the rest of the summer.
16 Harvard engineering students met the challenge of creating a project for their Engineering Problem Solving and Design intended to solve a real world situation. In the process they had to integrate their knowledge of biology, electrical engineering, and environmental design. The problem? The notoriously difficult to perfect BBQ brisket. The solution? Creating a robotic BBQ smoker that roasts a brisket with as much scientific precision as possible.
Somewhat resembling Baymax from Disney’s Big Hero 6, the 300 pound cooker uses a programmed Raspberry Pi controller in conjunction with a fan to cook the meat and self-regulate the internal temperature. This combination is the secret behind roasting the perfect brisket.
Over the course of the semester, 220 pounds of brisket were subjected to laborious testing, both in the Harvard team’s smoker and in their unofficial competitor, the Big Green Egg. Naturally computer simulations were also run to minimize the number of ruined briskets.
To attain the perfect smoke, the students implemented a series of innovations to create the best brisket. The cooking surface, for one, lets the smoke seep into the meat evenly. The water pan also helps the smoke circulation and maintain moisture levels. A fuel chute allows for easy fuel replenishment without interfering with the cooking. This works in tandem with a fuel basket that helps the meat cook evenly.
While some take pride in their BBQ abilities, if this device goes commercial it’ll help those who aren’t as well endowed with brisket cooking skills.
Three students are staying with the project before it hits the market under the Williams-Sonoma cookware brand. Primarily, they need to make it more versatile to cook other types of meat, but it currently meets the necessary requirements to participate in brisket cooking competitions.
Cooking a brisket takes a long time but so does the development of any product for public consumption. Luckily these Harvard students have a whole year until the next Fourth of July rolls around before they have to perfect their product.