Electrical engineering showcase prototypes in senior design open house

Anusha Lalani

As Texans fire up their grills for BBQ season, many will be challenged with cooking their meat evenly, but with the help of a new project by electrical engineering students, they could whip up a perfect rack of ribs with a remote. 

As part of their senior design project, Adrian Guajardo, Faniel Ghirmay, Biraj Shrestha, Nathan Manske, Abelardo Torres and Nathan Vu, all electrical or computer engineering seniors, created the machine prototype with sponsorship by Texas Instruments.

The project, Novice BBQ Smoker Temperature Controller, involves two probes and a mobile application. Guajardo said one probe measures the inside of the smoker and the other measures the internal temperature of the meat. The mobile application transmits the data of the smoker and meat into a mobile application that can be used from up to 30 feet away — far enough away that one can chill poolside while cooking.

“A lot of times you don’t want to come out and check on your temperature, so if your temperature is too low you may undercook your meat, which can cause health issues, or if it’s too high you can burn your meat, so we built an automatic temperature regulator so we can keep the temperature stable,” Guajardo said. 

The team presented their project alongside other groups at the ECE department spring open house, where Andrew Carr, web designer and the ECE head of communications, said the project development is important for students because these experiences are what companies look for.

“The general emphasis in education today, especially in engineering schools, is what have you done hands-on,” Carr said. “The classroom instruction provides your base, but you’ve got to have some kind of hands-on training.” 

Torres said the prototype suits the Texas lifestyle.

“Smoking and [BBQ are] very essential to the Texas scene, and we found that it was a project that everyone here would relate to,” Torres said. “We wanted to make it accessible, reliable and something that any food beginners or food lovers would actually use. We actually got it to $50, so it’s something that we want everyone to [be able to afford].”

This project came with perks, Torres said. 

“We enjoyed [the project] because we were able to cook every week and [test it at the same time],” Torres said. “It was like getting a reward for all the hard work. We were able to cook brisket, pork and baked potatoes.”