We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Durham Energy Institute


Student Grub project wins npower Future Leaders competition

(29 June 2015)

Insect kebabs made by Finlay Milner and Sam Shuttleworth Picture: TOM BANKS

Two engineering students from the University of Durham who encouraged eating insects as part of an everyday diet, have embarked upon a trip of a lifetime to the Amazon after winning npower’s Future Leaders competition.

Durham University engineering undergraduates Sam Shuttleworth and Finlay Milner spent months trying to convince people to make eating insects part of their everyday diet, arguing that consuming bugs is both good for your health and good for the planet.

Their Student Grub project won energy giant npower’s Future Leaders enterprise competition, securing them the trip to the Amazon.

The students flew out to the South American rainforest on Monday (June 15). They will live and work with the Huni Kai Amazonian tribe to install solar panels and build a sun-powered water pump to aid a better, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for the Huni Kai people. 

By interacting with indigenous tribes along the banks of the Rio Jordão and learning how climate change directly impacts them, the team will experience first-hand the importance of sustainable living.

Travelling with the pair are other contest winners from the universities of Bristol and East Anglia.

npower’s Future Leaders competition challenges students to create a project that has a positive environmental impact and a lasting legacy at their university campus. With farmland in increasingly short supply, their winning project proposed that society should consider eating insects and less meat, as creepy-crawlies offer high protein content and only require 15 square metres to be harvested, compared to 200 square metres to harvest a cow.

Before heading off on the trip Team Leader Finlay Milner commented:

“We still can’t believe we’re off to the Amazon in a matter of days. We’re all so excited to have this opportunity and have been preparing equipment and keeping ourselves fit and healthy for the trip – we look forward to this amazing experience and bringing back our learnings from the indigenous people in the hope to change the way we think and live."

“Living and eating more sustainably is important whether you’re in the modern or the most isolated of areas. We have been working incredibly hard over the last year, taking our winning idea on the road to fellow students and office workers, offering tasting sessions with grasshopper kebabs and banana and mealworm cakes - and now the time has finally come to make a difference to the people in this remote part of the world."

Jonathan Hulbert, npower’s Real Estate Sustainability Manager said,
“We wish the winners of the npower Future Leaders Challenge every success as they make the trip of a lifetime. The work they are about to undertake will enhance the lives of the villagers who currently struggle to collect their essential water supply from the river, and help eliminate the need to carry tens of litres in heavy pots, through the installation of a new water pumping system. With the support of the local community, the team will also be installing solar renewable technology which will provide an important electricity supply for the villagers."

npower’s Future Leaders competition aims to give all of its finalists key employability skills to position them ahead of their peers when making future job applications. On their return, the students will also take up a summer internship with the energy supplier, where they can gain work experience across many different business areas and experience working within the industry.