Throughout his youth in Indianapolis, Ralph Roper was continuously exposed to innovative design projects from his father's work as an expert in the metal forming industry. Such experiences, in combination with a strong interest in the sciences, led to his decision to attend Purdue University in 1964.
As an undergraduate he majored in mechanical engineering and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity where he held several offices. His education continued at the California Institute of Technology where he earned a masters degree in mechanical engineering majoring in biomedical engineering. After serving two years in the United States Army, he returned to Purdue as a graduate student majoring in environmental engineering. There he met his future wife Sue Ann with whom he as been married for 38 years.
His career in environmental engineering was molded by two "world-class" faculty members. Prof. Les Grady, his major professor, instilled an in-depth understanding of biological treatment processes; whereas Prof. Emeritus James Etzel, the department head, kindled a broad-based interest in all types of industrial waste issues. Their efforts enabled Roper to develop into a recognized expert in all aspects of both biological treatment and industrial waste management.
The first 15 years of his career was with a national engineering consulting firm (HNTB) where he served as principal engineer. For the past 20 years, he has worked full time at Heritage Research Group in Indianapolis towards the development of environmentally sustainable programs that deal with industrial waste materials. Accomplishments include advancements in industrial wastewater treatment technologies, metals recovery technologies, solid waste stabilization technologies, micronutrient production technologies and associated patents. For the past 12 years he has also worked part-time as an independent environmental engineering consultant.
Roper is especially proud of his focus on the state of Indiana. He has conducted engineering projects in more than 40 communities throughout the state. He has worked extensively at over a dozen municipal wastewater treatment facilities including long-term involvement in the Indianapolis combined sewer overflow (CSO) abatement program. He has also conducted projects for over forty Indiana industries in a variety of industrial categories including iron making, by-product coking, metal finishing, brass, corn wet milling, petroleum refining, aluminum anodizing, centralized industrial wastewater treatment, landfills, soy bean processing, poultry processing, organic chemicals, electrogalvanizing, electroplating, linerboard, assembly plants, and confined feedlots.