The ubiquitous use of software in critical systems necessitates integrating cybersecurity concepts into the software engineering curriculum so that students studying software engineering have adequate knowledge to securely develop software projects, which could potentially secure critical systems. An experience report of developing and conducting a course can help educators to gain an understanding of student preferences on topics related to secure software development. We provide an experience report related to the ‘Secure Software Development’ course conducted at Tennessee Tech University. We discuss student motivations, as well as positive and negative perceptions of students towards exercises. Based on our findings, we recommend educators to integrate real-world exercises into a secure software development course with careful consideration of tool documentation, balance in exercise diversity, and student background.