Ann Arbor teen’s duct tape tuxedo gets national attention

Vaughn Westerman poses in a tuxedo he made entirely out of duct tape. (Vaughn Westerman)

ANN ARBOR – A recent Pioneer grad has gained national recognition for a tuxedo he crafted out of duct tape. It’s pretty incredible and is an ode to his computer science interests as he heads to Michigan Tech this fall.

Vaughn Westerman entered the Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest, in which high school students are challenged to create a prom dress or tuxedo entirely out of duct tape. The grand prize? $10,000.

It took Westerman 46 hours and 18 rolls of duct tape to create his intricate tux, which has a computer chip motif. He even made duct tape virtual reality goggles to go along with the outfit.

“To represent my school, I put the Michigan Tech Husky on the back of the jacket,” Westerman wrote A4 via email. “Along with my interests, I felt a computer theme would be a good tribute to the technology we’ve used to keep in touch for the past 18 months.”

Westerman chose to highlight the Michigan Tech Husky logo on his homemade tux. (Vaughn Westerman)

Like many 18-year-olds around the world, Westerman spent his senior year at home during the pandemic, which proved to have its challenges when it came to applying to college.

“It felt weird having little in-person contact with my teachers and counselors; making figuring out all of this college stuff I never thought about before a bit more stressful,” wrote Westerman.

Vaughn’s mom, Amber Westerman, said he saw the contest as a fun a personal challenge.

“He did so much work,” she said. “Everything was cut by hand and he had his little craft knives out. We found a pattern for a Halloween costume and he was able to cut all the pieces out of paper for the pattern. He was then able to make a paper pattern for the other pieces, tape them together and hand-apply the other details. Duct tape is pretty remarkable.”

Vaughn was notified that he was a finalist while traveling in the national parks with his father and younger brother, where reception is spotty.

Vaughn Westerman poses in a tuxedo he made as part of the 2021 Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest. (Vaughn Westerman)

“He didn’t have a cell signal but he got the call and the email that he was in the final and got in touch with me right away,” said Amber.

Currently, there are five tuxedos and five dresses up for public voting. One winner and one runner-up will be selected in each category. To see the designs -- and to cast your vote for one of Ann Arbor’s very own -- click here.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.