Ships Is discovering an engineer a requirement to gaining use of them?

For example: has a discovery requirement of " Achieve Grade 3 access plus at least 1/3 progress towards Grade 4 with Selene Jean." but a meeting requirement of trader rank or higher. Does this mean I can simply travel to her location and give her the Lavian Brandy with the trader rank or higher and begin using her abilities?
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  • simply travel to her location: sure 🙂
  • give her the brandy: you'll certainly lose the brandy this way 😈
  • use her abilities: you don't use engineers. Engineers perform their art, and sometimes you may be able to entice them to express themselves on your ship ;)

Ok, seriously now: no, you can't. The regular progression is:
  • discover the Engineer. That gets you the invitation. This may come from a variety of sources - some Engineers may be simply public knowledge, others require a recommendation by another Engineer or a specific faction (like the Blue Mafia). Unless you have that invitation, the base's ground defense will shoot you down if you dare to show up.
  • in some cases, you may also need to obtain the permit to the system the Engineer resides in. The permit requirement may or may not be covered by the invitation requirement (Take e.g. Lori Jameson in ShinDez - she requires you to have combat rank "Dangerous" before she'll even speak to you, but you'll also need one Elite rank in order to be able to enter the system she resides in).
  • once you have that invitation, you can visit the Engineer base. On your first visit, the Engineer will tell you what you need to bring in order for them to consider you friendly enough to work on your ship. Just because you already know this from 3rd party resources doesn't change this sequence except that nothing stops you from simply bringing along whatever the Engineer wants right away ("Oh, those cigars? I just had them lying around in my cargo bay, no idea why or how they got there, honestly.").
Thank you Ashnak! That is exactly what I needed.

But that's a shame. In order to unlock a one of them I have to go through the black market. I simply have no interest in that area of the game.
Then don't - it's your choice. The Engineer content is intended to give you samples of all activities in ED.

Exactly right. Engineering is optional content, but I think you'll see that for most of us we have decided that the effort is worth the reward.

Didi is a particularly valuable engineer, since she does shield boosters. Every commander, every ship, is different, but in my fleet no module outnumbers shield boosters, so I find her services invaluable.

To get to her though you need to unlock Selene Jean. Selene Jean requires that you have mined 500t (Ashnak's point about showcasing various Elite activities)

To get to Selene Jean, you need to unlock Tod "The Blaster" McQuinn, who requires a few bounty vouchers (more of that activity spread)

To get to The Blaster, you need to do, well nothing, just start. See, it's not so bad.

Engineering is a long-haul objective. Many feel it is well worth it since the payoff in ship performance and capability is vastly improved. But there are few shortcuts in the engineering game. Up to you whether you feel it is worth it, but if you asked for my advice? Start getting those bounty vouchers. Good luck with whichever path you choose, and welcome to Elite Thaurane.
But that's a shame. In order to unlock a one of them I have to go through the black market. I simply have no interest in that area of the game.

Don't be discouraged or put off. I'm no trader in this game, and that includes using black markets. I said there were few shortcuts, but here's one :D

When I needed to unlock The Dweller all I did was take a mission for a small cargo delivery run and then immediately quit the mission, resulting in a few stolen appliances on board. I then just flew to the closest five black markets, sold one at each, and in about a half hour had met this requirement. So 30 minutes to get G5 power distributor access (plus G3 beams and whatever else he does). It's a one time thing, once they are unlocked that's it for as long as you play Elite.
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