Bert McInnis (1940 – 2016) co-founder of whatIf? Technologies, died peacefully at the Maycourt Hospice on July 21, 2016 after a long bout with cancer.
Bert began his work in socio-economic analysis and modelling at Statistics Canada in the mid 1970's, after earning the degrees of B.Sc. in engineering physics, M.Sc. in experimental physics, both from the University of Alberta, and Ph.D. in theoretical physics from McGill University, post-doctoral research at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories and lecturing in physics at Monmouth College and the University of Lethbridge.
Bert was one of the twenty-seven economists and scientists from ten countries invited to attend the Workshop on energy analysis and economics held under the auspices of the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study (IFIAS) in 1974. This confrontation between economists and scientists gave rise to the new field of energy analysis whose objective is the evaluation of resource flows in societal processes using physical units. This experience was to inform the approach to socio-economic modelling at both Statistics Canada and whatIf? Technologies.
As co-founder of whatIf? Technologies in 1989, originally Robbert Associates, Bert brought expertise spanning mathematics, philosophy, engineering, general system theory and physical and social sciences. He applied his deep understanding of these bodies of knowledge to the design and implementation of systems models primarily for the exploration of specific problems involving human agency. It would not be inappropriate to describe Bert as a polymath.
Bert's legacy resides in research papers published in major journals, the models developed over four decades, the whatIf? suite of modelling software, and a generation of modellers who benefited from his mentoring.