My Final Year Project: The BBQ Smoker

So, I’ve not posted anything in over a year. Sorry! I’ve been busy with my final year project.

Where does time go?

This past year I’ve been pretty busy completing the final year of my degree. It’s been a rough year but it’s over now and I can get back to doing what I love and enjoy. This post is a quick recap about a big part of my life this past year, my final year project.

I somehow managed to make my final year project about something special to me, something that I knew I wanted to do and something that I would enjoy doing, I designed and built a domestic smoker.

What does that have to do with engineering?

Well, if you throw a bit of CFD (computational fluid dynamics), various design techniques and a few experiments it turns out you have a pretty decent project.

Last October I went back to university and we were expected to have found a final year project over the summer – but no one had told us this! I spent a few days thinking of potential projects; a portable basketball net, a pizza oven or a smoker (I didn’t know what to pick). Then I thought I can kill two birds with one stone; I’ve always wanted a smoker! The next few weeks were spent trying to get a supervisor, ensuring my project was suitable and all that boring stuff. I was very lucky with the supervisor that I got; she was very understanding and enthusiastic about my project.

Once I was given the green light (well, technically before I was given the green light) I started scribbling down ideas, planning out what I was going to do and how I was going to do it – it was as if I was addicted to smoking (get it?). I want to keep this pretty short and simple so I won’t go into loads of detail but here’s what I did:

  • Experiment on a budget smoker to determine the quality issues and to gather data to compare to and validate my CFD model.
  • CFD simulation of the budget smoker to ensure the model was accurate enough to test new design concepts.
  • Four concept designs were created, simulated and evaluated. One was then developed further using CFD, an ergonomic assessment and some finite element analysis (FEA).
  • A prototype was built for further testing (and because I wanted one; this provided me with an excuse to get my Dads help). I even managed to get my logo on it!
  • A final test to compare the new design to the original budget option, the internal temperature of a brisket was monitored in each smoker.
  • I then created a video to assist with my presentation.

The poster for my final year project presentation. The poster shows the evolution of my project and images of the prototype smoker I made.

Completing the CFD was extremely infuriating as at first I really didn’t know what I was doing and being a part time student lecture-student time is limited. Luckily for me, I managed to get some help at work from a CFD engineer (based all the way in Pune, India) – he was a saviour and pointed me in the right direction. As frustrating as the CFD was it was overshadowed by the fun my Dad and I had building the prototype; it took us a day but it was worth it!

In a nutshell that’s what I’ve been doing this past year. It’s been a challenge but it’s been fun and I’m pretty sure I drove everyone I know crazy with my nonstop BBQ talk but without their support I’m not sure I’d have the same result; a First.


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When uni work is fun #bbq #finalyearproject

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BBQs & #nbasundays #uni #finalyearproject

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Had a great day making the smoker with the old man! #bbq #diy #finalyearproject

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The new smoker #diy #smoker #bbq

A photo posted by Daniel Shaw (@a_dshaw_thing) on

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