In Depth Show Blog – Aug. 23, 2013

This is the In Depth show blog. Here you can listen to our interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day, as well as links to other stories and resources we discuss.

On the show today:


Lt. Kristina Rohlin
Weapons and Control Systems Engineering Instructor and Course Coordinator
U.S. Naval Academy

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Many people use LEGOs to build houses or pirate ships or Star Destroyers, but the Naval Academy is using LEGOs to train midshipmen how to design weapons control systems. They’re not the LEGO kits you’re probably used to. These LEGOs have Bluetooth and InfraRed capabilities. Lt. Kristina Rohlin, instructor and weapons and control systems engineering laboratory course coordinator at the Naval Academy, explains how the kits work.

Tammy Flanagan
Senior Benefits Director
National Institute of Transition Planning

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Retiring the right way takes some financial planning and discipline. Even if you crunch the numbers right and land solid on your feet, sometimes you might not be mentally ready to retire. But some new statistics may cast doubt on the common stereotype about the baby boom generation — namely, that many of them intend to work until they drop. Tammy Flanagan, senior benefits director at the National Institute of Transition Planning, found some insight in a new study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

Rob Burton
Venable LLP

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The masterminds of the largest bid-rigging scheme in federal contracting history are behind bars now. According to the FBI, a network of corrupt public officials and federal contractors in the Washington, D.C. area bled off more than $30 million in taxpayer funding over five years, and they had a billion dollar contract in sight, too. But authorities say they stopped the scheme before that vehicle could be awarded. The man the FBI calls the ringleader, Army Corps of Engineers Program Manager Kerry Khan, was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison this summer. Rob Burton, former deputy administrator at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, is now a partner at the Venable law firm. He describes the case and what, if anything, we can learn from it.

William Borucki
Kepler Science Principal Investigator at Ames Research Center

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It’s the end of an short, but extremely productive era for an intrepid explorer at NASA. The Kepler Telescope is ending its mission to find Earth-like planets around our galaxy because of some damage to its control equipment. But the telescope isn’t finished yet, and the data it collected and sent back is going to keep the scientific community plenty busy for a little while longer. William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center, explains what Kepler produced and what’s next in the search for earth-like planets.

Roberta D’Amico
Branch Chief of Communication and Education
National Interagency Fire Center

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Earlier this week, a coordinating group of state and federal public land managers moved to raise the nation’s wild land firefighting suppression posture to what’s known as “Preparedness Level 5” — the most severe level on a scale that indicates the number of major wildfires in progress, the need to mobilize agencies’ firefighting resources and the competition for those resources among different regions of the country. Preparedness Level 5 has only been reached five times in the last decade. Roberta D’Amico, branch chief of communication and education at the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise, Idaho, explains how federal land management agencies coordinate their resources during these intense periods.

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