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Charissa Rujanavech

Master of Environmental Management 2013
Charissa Rujanavech

Charissa Rujanavech invented Liam, Apple's line of robots that can take apart iPhone so its components can be better recycled. And she did it without a background in robotics.

Charissa started out in ecology, where she learned how nothing in nature truly goes to waste. Then she joined the apparel industry, where she explored new ways to design and manufacture products sustainably. It was this ability to think holistically about the life cycle of a product that helped Charissa envision a new way to recycle electronics at Apple.

She imagined a robot that could disassemble iPhone quickly and precisely while maintaining the purity of its resources. That way, its high-quality materials could easily be reused. So she identified the most environmentally critical parts to remove, then worked closely with mechanical and automation engineers to sketch a line of robots that could do the job with incredible precision. After much trial and error, she and her tiny team created Liam, the disassembly line capable of taking apart over a million phones a year.