Applied research at Technology Access Centres (TACs), like SIRT, presents a unique opportunity. TACs offer hands-on learning for students and faculty as well as a direct link to industry. With specific examples from SIRT’s research leads and partners this panel will share observations and best practices for creative and professional growth.TACs are federally funded technology and applied research centres. They support local industries to overcome technical challenges and allow businesses to innovate products and services. The successful, Canada-wide TAC program, funded by NSERC is also a win: win for colleges and students. Faculty get exposure to leading technology and methods while students gain tangible career paths to industry and the opportunity to build new skills outside of the classroom.This past year alone, SIRT engaged over 90 students in learning opportunities including paid co-op and class engagements. Part of this is working directly with industry partners to deliver milestones essential for their innovation and success. SIRT worked with over 75 key industry players last year and a majority of these companies were small or medium sized businesses. For students, this is a natural extension of their in-class learning and generates skill development in the real-world.