• Volume 18 Number 2
    Spring 2009

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39.
Curtis Ross, BS ’80
 Remington, Ind.  •  Profiled: Winter ’05

Owner of soil testing lab and ag consulting firm

It’s an odd thing that Curtis Ross, a guy on the hot seat for only one job interview in his entire life, would become an expert among the “Where-do-you-want-to-be-in-five-years?” crowd.

“I have interviewed over 2,000 students from Big Ten and other schools over the past 32 years,” Ross says. “And Purdue students consistently float to the top of the list every year. It says a lot for the quality of a Purdue education.”

It was an education Ross, an ardent Purdue basketball fan, almost didn’t get.Curtis Ross

“I changed majors my senior year,” he says, but that’s not something he did by choice or would ever recommend to a student. “My new general agriculture major disallowed 11 credits of core science, two semesters of organic chemistry and one of calculus.” So he started work in 1979 with no degree. He returned during his two-week vacation to fulfill graduation obligations by completing an art appreciation class with a pass/fail option. And since then, his career has taken off. Literally.

His company, Calmar Soil Testing Labs, is working to perfect the Crop Condor, a remote controlled UAV (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle) it unveiled in 2004. The Condor cruises at an airspeed of 30 miles an hour, taking digital photos. Multispectral data is then analyzed to identify plant health concerns, including soil, weed and disease problems. The creation of a yield map is also possible.

“We have a new autopilot system that will be tested this spring,” Ross says.field