Transforming farming with drones

Alumnus Ryan Jenson invented a precision agriculture drone during a conversation about spraying wheat crops. Why spray everywhere, he questioned; why not just where it's needed?

"I figured you could do it with robots," Jenson says, and HoneyComb Corp. was born.

Jenson, 32, not only grew up on a 100-acre farm in Eagle Creek, Ore., he also started studying college-level engineering at 14 years old. He earned his bachelor's at 19 and later his master’s in mechanical engineering both from Portland State.

At HoneyComb Jenson and his team merged aerospace systems and remote sensing to invent a drone that locates problem areas in agriculture or forested lands.

"There's not a system in place today that's tailored to agriculture like this," Jenson says. "We developed it on our own."

The company is Jenson's second; he partnered with PSU professor Mark Weislogel to form a business that deals with space systems.

"I always wanted to start my own company and do my own thing," Jenson says. "Everyone in my family has their own company—it's in my DNA."

Since founding the company in 2012, in four years HoneyComb has gone from startup tech company to marketing its agricultural drones internationally in Ecuador, Argentina, Uganda and other areas of Central America, South America and Africa.

"Once you start building and creating your own vision of things, you realize it's doable," he says. "We're bringing technology to a place where people didn't think it was possible and having an impact."