Harvard engineering class tries to make the best BBQ smoker

As part of a 14-week-long assignment, 16 Harvard engineering students were given the task to create the perfect brisket. But what did they need to do that? A really, really good BBQ smoker. To build one, Engineering Sciences professor Kevin Parker landed his class a big-name client willing to fund the project: kitchen goods retailer Williams-Sonoma. The catch? It had to outdo the Big Green Egg -- a charcoal-powered kamado-styled ceramic smoker considered to be the best in the business. And, after months of working on it, the result was The Harvard Smoker, which is designed to consistently produce the best possible brisket. The contraption's hourglass shape is meant to spread heat evenly throughout the meat, while a slew of heat sensors send temperature readings to a smartphone -- and this becomes extremely important in what's typically a cooking process that takes 12 to 15 hours.

According to the Harvard Gazette, people seem to have enjoyed the meat. "This is first-class brisket," said Dave Schaefer, a barbecue chef who was at the smoker's launch event on campus. "This is as good a brisket as I've had in months and months." A student involved with the project added, "I loved it. I'm a huge fan of meat. I figured if we have to do all this each week, at least we get to eat brisket on weekends."

Look, I've had delicious brisket from my days living in the South -- including the world famous Franklin's BBQ in Austin, Texas and, better yet, my father in-law's (trust me, it is out of control) -- so I'm kind of skeptical about the university's smoker. Still, if Harvard wants to have me over for dinner to try its brisket, count me in. Seriously, let's make it happen.

[Image credit: Harvard Gazette]