Well, that was easy. A few of my orders start being bought up and my level three agent asks me to clear a blockade, adding a nice chunk of ISK to my wallet that is begging to be spent on skill books for invention. The prices for Caldari Encryption Methods, Mechanical Engineering and Electronic Engineering are cheaper than I thought so I pick them up and inject them. A quick manipulation of my skill training queue has all three skills learnt to level I within a few hours. I thought setting myself up for Tech II production would be more complicated.
Then I read Karox Lominax's Guide to R&D and Invention and I realise I have only scratched the surface with my skill training requirements. There is a fair bit more preparation work required before I can get a Tech II BPC, surrounding agents, tools and secondary skills. A little more digging elsewhere also reveals information about the materials required to manufacture Tech II modules, including all the exotic compounds gathered from low- and null-sec space, refined in POSes that reside at least in low-sec space and the complex reactions they feed, and it all makes my head start spinning. I'm clearly going to need to take progress a step at a time to keep some kind of tenuous grip on my sanity.
The guide first settles a curiosity I have with the engineering skills, in that there is no listed benefit to training them beyond level I. The guide points out that training the skills to a higher level increases the probability of successful invention, making it useful to learn the skills at least to level IV. That's a simple task that I can set in motion straight away and I adjust my skill training queue to this effect, in-between revisiting my still-lacklustre core competencies.
Whilst I am spending the few weeks training the skills I can build up faction reputation with a corporation that houses a suitable research agent, which the guide helpfully including hints on what to look for. A bit of poking around the in-game interface, and a bit of help from my gorgeous corporation colleagues, shows that both Lai Dai Corporation and Core Complexion Inc. could satisfy my requirement of a research agent specialising in mechanical and electronic engineering, even if Lai Dai only offer a level three agent for one of them.
It is time to start running missions for at least one of the corporations so that I can gain faction standing and move towards a position where I can build up research points, which are needed to get hold of the datacores required for invention. I even nestle a couple of social skills in to my skill training queue that should help speed up the process.
Whilst I am back running low-level missions my skill training will advance and I will aim to continue to make a profit both from missions and by maintaining my industrial endeavours. I will need to earn another chunk of ISK in order to buy the Research Project Management skill book, although it looks like it can be an investment made later in the process. As for manufacturing the Tech II hardware, I'll worry about that when I'm somewhat closer to having a Tech II BPC sitting in my hangar.
I have to admit that I am quite impressed with capsuleers who pioneered these processes and were able to manufacture Tech II modules and ships without having informative guides to hand. I would also like to thank Karox for being generous enough not only to write his Guide to Almost Everything in EVE and pointing me towards it but also for taking time to offer some advice directly in New Eden.